August 19, 2010
Posted: 06:01 PM ET
By Ed Smart
Editor's note: Ed Smart's daughter, Elizabeth, was abducted in 2002 and rescued after 9 months of captivity. He passionately speaks out about child abductions and safety of children.
In the time since our family’s tragedy, I’ve talked with many parents across the country. I‘m always amazed to discover so many individuals and communities who are uneducated about the issues surrounding child safety. I am also amazed at how many are unwilling to acknowledge what is happening in our society. It is my belief that this apathy has its roots in denial and that it needs to stop.
The lack of willingness to acknowledge these nightmares means our children won’t be prepared or able to help themselves when faced with such a traumatic event. We must empower them.
In order to help motivate people and support our children, I joined the Surviving Parents Coalition, a non-profit organization that lobbies for funding and legislation to protect children from abduction and sexual abuse. With all of the potential dangers facing our children online and in their own backyards, it is my personal goal to fight for this cause.
This summer in an effort to address this issue, I will join The Surviving Parents Coalition and its founder, Amhad Rivazfar in a bike ride across America.
Ahmad is a Rochester, NY native and the father of six children. In 1988, two of his daughters, ages 8 and 6, were abducted, raped and left to die in the woods. 8 year old, Sayeh, survived; Sara, age 6, did not. Rivazfar is now an active volunteer leader in his community and in the cause for protecting and recovering children from abduction and abuse.
Along with others, he has organized this month-long journey titled “Ride for Their Lives.” It begins on August 21 and is expected to culminate on September 22, 2010.
The ride’s purpose is to focus on four main legislative issues surrounding child abuse and abduction cases:
DNA Collection on Felony Arrest – to lobby for DNA collection on felony arrest, not just on felony conviction. Currently, 23 states have passed some form of DNA on felony arrest legislation, but there are 27 states that should follow suit. www.dnasaves.org.
Protect our Children Act of 2008 – a law that gives more resources to the investigation and interdiction of child exploitation cases.
The Adam Walsh Act – The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act set minimum standards for a national sex offender’s registration and notification system.
It takes a Community; “Not ONE More Child” – A Child Safety Education Initiative that educates and empowers children to recognize, avoid, resist, and escape dangerous situations and violence including bullying, assault, abuse and abduction.
With the ride, Ahmad and I will join other cyclists through 12 states and 26 cities to create awareness for these issues and engage our communities and leaders in a discussion about change.
Like my life before June 2002, we don’t want to think the worst will happen. But that doesn’t mean that it will or won’t. There are no guarantees in life and we know the unthinkable happens. That is why we must take action.
Sayeh and my daughter, Elizabeth, are moving on with their lives, but don’t want others to experience what they have been through.
There are solutions and not guarantees. We must be proactive for our children’s sake. Learn more and join us at: www.RideForTheirLives.com.
Filed under: Justice
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