What should be learned by the Elizabeth Smart kidnap case, I am afraid, will be overlooked by the media as well as most American families. The story is already developing that Elizabeth had many opportunities to break away from her captors. Why she didn't, it appears, is that she did not have the maturity or cunning to escape and obtain help. By the time you are 14, you should have developed much of the maturity you need to take care of yourself. What I am afraid most parents will take from this case is to shelter their children even more.
The real lesson learned should be the importance of educating your children about the "real" world around them so that they can take care of themselves once they leave the home. In a couple of years Elizabeth will be eligible for college. Have her parents prepared her to live on her own? It doesn't appear so. And it doesn't appear the lesson of this case will be learned, either.
They say that Elizabeth was brainwashed, but I think that Ed and Lois Smart are the ones who have been brainwashed. They have been brainwashed into thinking that hiring a day laborer from a street corner and bringing him into their million-dollar home is a legitimate way of doing business. I would imagine that in the future they would look to hire someone with credentials and just pay the applicable taxes and fees.