BOISE, Idaho — During the fourth annual Family and Community Engagement Conference, or FACE, on Tuesday, author and activist Elizabeth Smart told her story to hundreds of state legislatures, school officials, local leaders, and first responders.
The Idaho Department of Education held its first-ever School Safety Symposium, with the goal of advancing student safety though prevention and social-emotional listening.
Smart was the keynote speaker during the conference. She gained unwanted notoriety as a 14-year-old abduction survivor. Since then, Smart has become an advocate of legislation and organizations that safeguard children.
On Tuesday morning, Smart spoke about her story, how she was kidnapped, held captive, and was abused physically, mentally, and emotionally for nine months.
"For me, it was important to come, to be able to talk a little bit about what is actually very common, in today's society," Smart said. "Abuse, rape, kidnapping, and sort of give them an inside look from a survivor's perspective."
Smart explained that she decided early on that she was going to do whatever it took to survive her abduction. She said she knows there are other victims out there, and there will be more in the future.
The event continued through Tuesday afternoon, with group and panel discussions on creating safety for children.
Event organizers say the goal for the symposium is to bring educators together to identify gaps in training and resources that Idaho schools need to instill resiliency and self-management in their students.
They say that this way students are prepared to create and maintain positive relationships in their lives and make responsible decisions.
Following her keynote speech, Smart gave advice to other survivors and victims, "Don't give up, because these other people are out there. There are more good people than there are bad people in the world, and there are so many people who would be willing to do whatever they can to help you, so do not give up."
Watch the full interview with Smart below: