During the holidays, many families have a tradition where everyone takes turns saying what they are grateful for. At the Polly Klaas® Foundation and Complementary Medicine Association, we are very grateful that you have joined us in our mission to keep children safe.
Keeping your family safe becomes part of your family bonding experience, an essential part of the fabric of your lives.
With your own children, you teach safety lessons throughout each day—at the grocery store, as you pick them up from school, and while they’re at sports and school events. While in casual conversations, you quietly let them know what you do to keep them safe.
You also watch out for other children. You could be stepping outside to be present and watch the neighborhood kids come home from school. Or, you could be shopping at a large store and show a lost child how to find a store employee who can page their parents over the loudspeaker. You can also distribute posters of missing children, showing your own kids how to help others.
We are fortunate this year to see an example of the power that family bonding can provide a child who finds himself or herself in unexpected and extreme danger.
We have enormous gratitude for being able to witness Elizabeth Smart’s strength and courage. Her 2002 kidnapping at knifepoint from her family home made international news, as did her recovery from captivity 9 months later. After all these years her captor has finally been put on trial.
The news stories showed us a remarkably poised young woman, who spared no detail in telling the court about her ordeal.
Perhaps the most vivid lesson for us was her 2008 statement about the importance of her family to her survival and resilience. “I always knew that no matter what, I’d still be part of my family. They could change my name, change the way I look, starve me to death. But they couldn’t change that I am Ed and Lois Smart’s daughter. That was a very powerful thing to me.”
Elizabeth Smart provides us with a living example of someone who has met unexpected brutal tragedy, lived through it, and recovered. She shows us that we can be resilient. We can reach deep, and be as courageous as we need to be.
Elizabeth also shows us the power of the bond between parent and child, and how that bond can provide the strength and confidence to endure even the most unimaginable dangers.