Thursday, May 26, 2011

Elizabeth Smart Confronts Kidnapper, Plans to Help Others

Elizabeth Smart, kidnapped at the age of 14, faced her kidnapper in court at his sentencing Wednesday. The beautiful young woman told him, "I don't have very much to say to you. I know exactly what you did. I know that you know that what you did was wrong. You did it with full knowledge -- I have a wonderful life now and no matter what you do, you will never affect me again." The Associated Press reports Brian David Mitchell, the kidnapper, will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Elizabeth, having overcome so much, also had wisdom-filled words for the media, "I think one of the biggest trials in life, to heal from any kind of experience is by helping those around you. By lifting those around you, you end up lifting yourself as well."
The brave young woman plans on working to prevent crimes similar to her experience and helping children who are missing or no longer have a voice. After she graduates from college, Smart plans to work as a child advocate. She has started "The Elizabeth Smart Foundation." The program will work to prevent children from becoming victims of kidnapping and sexual crimes. The first project sponsored by the foundation is the RAD program, according to ABC 4 News.
Elizabeth is one of the few survivors of "stereotypical" kidnappings. The following foundations and programs were established in honor of victims who did not survive their experiences. These foundations and Smart's all have related goals: to save other children from similar experiences.
Morgan Nick Foundation
Morgan Nick was kidnapped in June of 1995. A year following her disappearance, Morgan's mother Colleen established The Morgan Nick Foundation. The program works to provide support to families of missing children through intervention, education, and legislation. Although Morgan has never been found, her family turned her kidnapping into an opportunity to help others and prevent similar situations.
Polly Klaas Foundation
Twelve-year-old Polly Klaas was enjoying a slumber party when she was kidnapped from her home. Volunteers stepped forward to utilize growing technological tools to aid in her search. Polly's remains were found nine weeks after she disappeared. The Polly Klaas Foundation now exists to provide the same tools to other missing children and aid their families and law enforcement.
Amber Alert
Amber Hagerman was 9 years old when she was kidnapped and brutally murdered. Although an eye witness saw Amber being forced into a truck and heard the young girl screaming, she was unable to be saved. The Amber Alert System named in her honor has saved hundreds of children by alerting communities and beyond when a child is kidnapped and in danger.

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