About 18 months later, the result is GlobWorld (Globworld.com), a 3-D environment where kids ages 6 to 12 are represented by puffy cartoon “globs.” Membership is free (though kids can buy certain decorations for nominal sums), and users can set up profiles and play games, stream music, or chat with or send messages to parent-approved buddies or Mom or Dad, since each account requires a parent-and-child pair.
Contacts are limited to a child's relatives and real-life pals. But because friends can sometimes turn into bullies, the site also uses a patent-pending technology to sniff out suspicious exchanges (for example, a rapid-fire bombardment of messages to a single address). If necessary, a human moderator will pass any incriminating words straight to the parents of the kids involved. “That makes it hard to say ‘My kid wouldn't do that,’” Nachlas notes wryly.
This past October, for National Bullying Prevention Month, the site produced and distributed to schools nationwide a PSA in which a cartoon newscaster with Jersey Shore hair breaks the news that “bullying is a thing of the past.” Some 13,000 trading cards featuring GlobWorld characters on one side and bullying factoids on the other were also distributed to schools across the country. “Teachers said the kids talked about them all day,” Nachlas says.
Today Nachlas is part of a team that's helping to draft an anti-bullying measure for the Florida legislature, and she anticipates testifying about bullying before state legislators in Tallahassee this year. GlobWorld has also partnered up with PACER, an organization for kids with disabilities that does a lot of anti-bullying work, and with the British group @BeatBullying. “They don't just have anti-bullying programs in the classrooms, they incorporate them into sports and music programs, too,” she says. “Hopefully, we can bring a little bit of that here, and bring some of what we're doing over there.” And Nachlas adds that her efforts are only just beginning: “My work in the legal field is my job, but GlobWorld is my passion.”
Amazing Anti-Bully Sites
Herotopia.com This free, Club Penguin—like social online game sneaks in lessons on topics like geography, history, and social interaction. Kids create an avatar and zap around colorful gathering spots based on various world capitals, occasionally tangling with Herotopia's archvillains, the Bully Bunch.
Kidsagainstbullying.com You'll find a great collection of cartoons, contests, and tips about how to handle harassment here. Kids with disabilities are amply represented.
Stopbullyingnow The webisodes posted on Stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov stand up to anything on Nickelodeon, and there are lots of pointers for both kids and parents.
Visit parenting.com/momcongress for more news on ways to make a difference in your child’s school.