By Amelia Nielson-Stowell
It took nine months for police to find Elizabeth Smart after she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home last year.
But it took less than eight months for CBS to air a made for television movie about the kidnapping.
Jared Sine, an economics major from Salt Lake City, lives about a mile from where Elizabeth was held by her abductors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Eileen Barzee. He thought the CBS movie was fairly accurate from the information he has heard.
“They [CBS] did a really good job respecting the Smarts, and at the same time telling the story the way it needs to be told,” Sine said.
Renae Flitton, a victim advocate for the Orem Victim Assistance Program, chose not to watch the movie because, Flitton said, she “deals with a lot of that already.”
Flitton said while she believes it is not a good idea to give Elizabeth so much media attention, she thinks it is helping others.
“As much education as we can do about abuse is great for a community,” Flitton said.
Melissa Allen, a professor in the Psychology and Special Education Department, watched the CBS movie, “The Elizabeth Smart Story,” and said she was hoping the movie would focus more on how the family coped with the crisis.
“I teach a crisis class,” Allen said. “My interest is how children respond to trauma. I think it [the movie] was more for what most people were interested in – the ordeal. How do you help a person adjust after something like this has happened?”
But is the national television exploitation good for a teenage crime victim?
“It would be traumatic to re-live through it,” Sine said. “I don”t think her parents are doing her or anyone a favor; they could have waited. You don”t just want to bury it to get over it, but re-hashing it with the media isn”t the best way to get over it either.”
Allen agrees and feels Elizabeth needs time to heal.
“I”m very upset that they”re doing this,” Allen said. “I do worry about all this attention and publicity for her.”
A Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll reveals 67 percent of Utah residents think the continued media exposure for Elizabeth Smart is probably bad or definitely bad.
Flintton said she feels such media attention is traumatizing mentally for Elizabeth.
“I would never expose any of my victim clients to that,” Flintton said. “Healing takes a while; it doesn”t happen overnight.”
In the past two months, Elizabeth and her parents, Ed and Lois, have done television interviews with Larry King, Oprah Winfrey and Katie Couric. The interviews coincided with the release of Ed Smart”s book, “Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope.”
However, some question the Smarts” motives.
“I feel like money issues have come forward more so than protecting the child”s privacy,” Allen said.
Smarts parents were paid for their participation in the movie.
But Allen said the family did take a year out of their lives, so they might be in need of the money.
“It will be a life-long process of overcoming the trauma,” Allen said.