SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Good Things Utah) — Nearly 20 years ago, Elizabeth Smart was rescued from her captors who held her hostage for over 9 months. Today she and Marcus Johnson joined us on the show to share about the importance of effective bystanders and how women and men can get involved in Smart Defense.

When Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped 20 years ago, it was bystanders who ultimately led to her rescue. If they hadn’t seen something strange and reported it to the police, she may not be here today. Bystanders are people who don’t just let strange things go on and think someone else will do something. They take action to help others in need. This could mean running in and pulling people apart or simply picking up the phone and calling the police.

But being a good bystander isn’t just about taking action in the moment. It’s also about being prepared and knowledgeable ahead of time. That’s why the Elizabeth Smart Foundation has created Smart Defense, a program that teaches people how to intervene in situations of violence or danger. The program includes a women’s program and, more recently, a men’s program.

Johnson emphasizes that men have an important role to play in preventing violence, as the majority of violent crimes are committed by men. However, many men don’t feel they need self-defense training or don’t know how to intervene in dangerous situations. That’s why the men’s program is focused on teaching intervention techniques and providing physical tools for self-defense, as well as raising awareness of situations that require action.

Smart notes that having the knowledge and tools to be a good bystander can make all the difference in a dangerous situation. Even if she had known then what she knows now, she may not have been able to prevent her kidnapping, but being prepared can help us all respond better in difficult situations.

Being a good bystander is about being aware of your surroundings, recognizing when something isn’t right, and taking action to help others. It’s about being a part of a community that looks out for one another and takes responsibility for each other’s safety. With the right knowledge and training, we can all be better bystanders and make the world a safer place.