The world was riveted when the news began trickling out of Salt Lake City 15 years ago this past summer: In the early-morning hours of June 5, 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was abducted by a strange man out of the bedroom she shared with her sister.
Despite widespread searches, she remained missing for a year.
But in March 2003, the unthinkable happened: Elizabeth, who had been held captive during those nine months by a mentally unstable man and his wife, was spotted just south of Salt Lake City. She was finally reunited with her family, who over the course of those long and horrendous months had remained steadfast in their devotion to find her.
This resilient and brave young woman has since started a family of her own and is now an advocate for child safety.
To mark the 15th anniversary of the kidnapping, A&E and Lifetime recently aired “Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography,” in which she described her story with previously undisclosed details and debunked some wide-spread misconceptions about her time in captivity.
Elizabeth hosted a question-and-answer session on Reddit ahead of that premiere, in which she answered the following, important question:
“In your opinion as a children’s advocate, what are some practical, commonsense steps parents can take to help their children avoid abuse? (And I guess I mean abuse in a general way, anything from extreme bullying to abduction.)”
To which Elizabeth replied:
1. Make sure your child knows that they are loved unconditionally, and make sure your child knows what unconditionally means.
2. Make sure that your child understands that no one has the right to hurt them or scare them in any way. It doesn’t matter what that person may be: family, friend, religious leader, community leader, it doesn’t matter.
3. Should anyone hurt your child or threaten them in anyway, they need to tell you.
Elizabeth’s advice is powerful, and knowing her background– how close to home stories of abuse lie– makes these three tips all the more poignant.
Share this wisdom from Elizabeth Smart today!