Thirteen-year-old Nautica Baker is considered an “endangered runaway.”
Her family members haven’t seen or heard from her since they reported her missing from Clayton County on July 27, 2010. Since then, her description (a black female with green eyes and brown hair, approximately 120 pounds and 5 feet 6 inches tall) had been plastered on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) website. The Clayton County Police Department has continued to investigate Nautica’s case.
A relatively new “first-of-its-kind public-service initiative” by Comcast aims to help find her and other missing children. “Every year, an estimated 800,000 children are reported as missing in the United States and an average of 400 girls in Georgia are commercially, sexually exploited each month,” said Cindy Kicklighter, Comcast director of communications for the Atlanta region.
The cable company in January launched “Missing Kids On Demand,” an “on demand” format show, and a website –– www.xfinity.com/news/missing/kids –– that makes information about missing children available to millions of Comcast video customers nationwide. “Basically you tune into channel one, go to the on demand network and it’s under the get local folder,” said Comcast Director of Marketing Taylor Nipper. “The cases are split up by name and because it’s on demand you can watch it when you want. We saw this as a great way to provide a public service to the community and our viewers.”
NCMEC Executive Director Robert Lowery echoed a similar sentiment. “This is a very powerful tool for us,” he said. “It allows us to target certain market areas and the impact is much more far reaching. In 1984 our recovery rate [of missing children brought back home] was 62 percent; today it’s 96 percent. Innovative outlets like this give us the ability to connect quickly. We consider that our key to success.”
Produced in partnership with NCMEC, the show features 20 video profiles at a time, chronicling missing-child cases from across the nation. Each video airs for 12 weeks and includes relevant details about the child’s case, including the name of the missing child, the city from which he or she disappeared, possible whereabouts, likely abductors (if any) and photos. An age-progressed photo showing what he or she may look like at a more recent age is shown in cases where the child has been missing for a long period of time. “The best way to help find a missing child is to get the message out as broadly as possible,” said
The public service initiative is modeled after Comcast’s “Police Blotter On Demand,” a show created in partnership with local law enforcement authorities that profiles local “most wanted” criminals. “That was sort of the impetus for this; we began discussing ways we can assist the community through the on demand format,” Nipper said. “Since its launch in November 2006, “Police Blotter On Demand” has profiled more than 1,400 fugitives and has led to more than 90 criminal captures.
So far none of the children featured have been found, but representatives from both Comcast and NCMEC said they are optimistic that the show will ultimately help crack some cases. “This creates a new avenue to help us locate missing children,” Lowery added. “We’re excited about the possibilities.”
Got a juvenile justice story idea? Contact JJIE.org staff writer Chandra R. Thomas at email@example.com. Thomas, a former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow and Kiplinger Public Affairs Journalism Fellow, is an award-winning multimedia journalist who has worked for Atlanta Magazine and Fox 5 News in Atlanta.