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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Blame the parents

The nation rejoiced this month when Elizabeth Smart was returned to her family after being snatched from her bedroom nine months ago. Her small community in Salt Lake City, Utah, celebrated in jubilation at Liberty Park, the same park where a candlelight vigil was held the day after Smart was abducted. But this is where the happy story ends.
There is a darker side to the case of Elizabeth Smart. It begins and ends with her parents, Ed and Lois Smart. They have tirelessly and defiantly fought for the safe return of their daughter, yet it is hard to pity a family who has no one to blame but itself for the tragedy that has haunted it for the past nine months.
Parents have a responsibility. A parent is responsible for rearing a child to the best of his ability so that the child will be able to understand this horribly complex world in which he lives. Parents silently pledge to protect and guard their children from any harm that may endanger them.
What parents do not teach their children to avoid talking to strangers, or to accept things from people they do not know? These common sense lessons are taught to children to protect them from becoming another kidnapping statistic. They must have the ability and knowledge to act should they ever find themselves in a threatening situation.
Ed and Lois, who themselves are well beyond the ages of simple children, have no excuse for disregarding common sense. Some may describe them as compassionate because they selflessly try to take care of the disadvantaged by offering work. However, in they do so at the expense of placing their own children in danger.
Imagine a crowded downtown sidewalk. A man stumbles forward asking for a small handout. This same scenario happened to Lois Smart.
Instead of simply giving the man a few dollars, she invited the man to earn some extra money by helping her husband repair the roof — at her home –while her children were there.
What a wonderful world this would be if people could unquestionably trust everyone they encounter. Unfortunately, they can’t. The man who Lois Smart invited home turned out to be Brian Mitchell, the same man who abducted Elizabeth Smart.
In a report in The Salt Lake Tribune, Lois Smart said, “He seemed like an awfully nice person,” and later added that she was never able to gather much personal information about the man.
How na??ve can the Smarts possibly be?
But this is not the first time the couple has brought home a drifter. Not too long before Brian Mitchell, there was Richard Ricci. Ricci was hired as a handyman to do odd jobs around the house. It was not until Ricci had been dismissed for stealing from the family that his past criminal record of burglary, aggravated robbery and attempted murder was revealed.
Naturally, the Smarts were shocked. In a June 2002 article on CNN.com, Ed Smart characterized Richard Ricci to seem “nice enough.”
It seems as though the Smarts continue to fall into the same trap. Their compassion to help out “nice people” has stung them not once, but twice, and will continue to do so unless they open their eyes. Bringing individuals into their home without any concern for their background and character has left them prey to misfortune.
There is no doubt that the Smarts tell their children not to talk to strangers. It’s time these parents practice what they preach.

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