On May 2, 2013, Elizabeth Smart spoke out at a forum on human trafficking at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She addressed the issue why the three young women kidnapped in Ohio may not have spoken out or tried to escape for such a long time.
Smart said that she was raised in a religious household where abstinence was taught and valued. She remembered a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum--deriding someone who permitted sexual touching over and over and evoking a sense of shame and lack of worth in a young girl who had been kidnapped, forcibly raped, and held hostage.
Smart advocates for home and school sexual education that combines abstinence with building of self-esteem. She believes that children should be taught that "you will always have value and nothing can change that." She is highly critical of abstinence-only teachers who tell girls they're worthless if they are sexually used or violated.
Young girls are often taught, either at home or at school in sex education classes about abstinence. This is a good thing, especially (but not exclusively) to protect them from HPV. Young girls should be taught that they are special, that they have worth as human beings, and that no one should be allowed to rob them of one thing so precious to each young woman: her own bodily integrity.