SUNBURY — The abduction, rape and eventual finding of Elizabeth Smart made national headlines ten years ago.
Smart was 14 years old when she was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in 2002. Now she’s working to make sure other children are not victimized.
The auditorium was filled with applause as Smart took the stage at Shikellamy High School to talk about the most traumatic time in her life; when she was abducted for nine months and raped by her kidnapper. She said she`s doing it so other children won`t become victims like her.
“They need to learn that if someone is touching them or if someone is hurting them, or making them feel bad inside, then that adult is not a friend,” said Smart.
Brian Mitchell and his wife took Smart at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home 2002 when she was 14 years old.
Smart was invited to Shikellamy High School as the guest speaker for Sunbury Community Hospital`s Sixth Annual Healthy Woman expo.
Smart was promoting her cause, an empowerment program called “RAD Kids”. It teaches children to stand up for themselves to avoid being targeted by sexual predators.
“They need to be given these skills to be able to walk away or be able to tell someone else who can come help them or be able to get away from a would be capturer,” said Smart.
Organizers say more than 600 people turned out to hear Smart speak at the expo.
With the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal still on the mind of many, parents came out to be educated.
“I have a nine year old so I am very concerned,” said parent Karena Snyder of Selinsgrove. “It`s certainly not like it was when we grew up, where you could walk to school by yourself and not worry.”
Smart says the biggest component of RAD Kids is convincing children if they are being abused to come forward.
“I think is most important, is it`s not your fault and you can tell,” said Smart.
RAD Kids stands for Resisting Aggression Defensively.
Smart says she is working to see RAD Kids incorporated into every school system in the country.