Smart Vows To Help Children

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Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 9:57am

Kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart says she wants to help others avoid similar ordeals.

Elizabeth Smart spoke to NBC affiliate KSL Wednesday about her hopes for the future.

It was her first interview since returning from her Latter-day Saint mission.

Smart returned home from her mission in Paris just two weeks ago.

She calls it one of the greatest choices of her life.

"I would never change my decision, serving a mission," Smart said. "It was incredible watching, being able to be a part of a bigger picture, seeing people change their lives."

She knows something about life changing.

Smart's abduction from her home in 2002 when she was 14 years old has been in the media spotlight for nearly a decade, including horrific details of the many abuses she endured during her nine months of captivity.

On May 25, Brian David Mitchell, the man convicted of kidnapping and taking Smart across state lines for the purpose of having sex, will be sentenced for his crimes.

He faces the possibility of serving a life sentence in federal prison, something the entire Smart family wants.

Smart is expected to address the court Wednesday before Mitchell is sentenced and possibly address Mitchell himself.

"I'm not really sure what I'm going to say yet. I guess we'll just all wait and see," Smart said.

One point that will likely be brought up is that May 25 is also National Missing Children's Day.

It's an opportunity, again, for Smart to use her situation to raise awareness.

"Mostly having it be a day to give courage to others ... give hope to others that they can overcome their trials, that they can move on, that they can move forward," she said. "Life is so beautiful and so short at the same time and it's so delicate that you just never know what's going to happen. We might as well make the most of it while we can."

After Mitchell was found guilty in December there was talk that Smart was eying a possible career as a prosecutor.

"It certainly is something I've thought about. I'm not saying no, I'm not saying yes. I'm not really sure yet. There's so much out there. I want to really be sure of it when I decide what I'm doing. That I'm doing the right thing," she said.

Her concern now is other children, victims or survivors of kidnappings.

"It breaks my heart every time I read a story in the paper or on the news about another child who didn't have a happy ending, or who did have a happy ending but is not so happy because they're struggling with so much in their life because of the after effects," Smart said. "So I hope that I can reach out to them and make a difference."

She says she wants to educate children about perpetrators to prevent them going through what she did.

"Fifty percent of children who fight or scream or kick or yell, run away, are safe. They end up getting away from their captor," Smart said. "So, if we could cut down all kidnapping by 50 percent, what a miracle that would be."

She hopes to do that through the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which she says will focus on a few different issues.

"One of them that I'm very excited about is the RAD Kids program," Smart said. "I don't know how much people know about it, but it stands for Resist Aggression Defensively, and it doesn't just teach children what to do, it doesn't just talk about it. It gets them up. It teaches them what moves they can do to break away - how to defend themselves."

"I hope that I can make a difference," she continued. "I hope that because of this experience, I will have a voice for good, that I will be able to speak out about issues."

Smart, 23, will return to BYU in the fall to finish her classes.

She has two semesters left and plans to graduate in April.
 

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