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Insights from an Expert: NABITA’s Annual Conference Keynote Speaker Aaron Stark

We asked our keynote speaker, Aaron Stark, what he is most excited about for the 2023 Annual Conference and where he sees the field of violence prevention going in the future.

What does violence prevention mean to you?

Violence prevention means increased emotional awareness, communication, and community. It means reaching out to the ones in the dark or on the edge of despair and showing them that they can make it through and that they matter.

Why are you excited about the 2023 NABITA Annual Conference?

I am very excited about the 2023 NABITA conference. It will be a fantastic opportunity to connect and engage with subject matter experts and leaders in violence prevention to collaborate on improving methods and tactics for dealing with at-risk individuals.  I am truly honored to be part of such a fantastic list of presenters.

What do you hope to accomplish in your keynote address?

I tell my own story of pain, abuse, self-destruction, and redemption in hopes that it will help the next person in that spot to be seen not as a threat or project but as a human in pain worthy of attention and emotional respect. I want to model that we need to show love to the ones we feel deserve it the least because they need it the most.

What strategies do you recommend for practitioners to intervene, prevent, and respond to violence and harm in the university setting and K-12?

Listen. Sit with the person in pain. Be the one spot in their chaotic life that doesn’t shift with the tides. Be human.

What advice would you give to practitioners looking to deepen their understanding of violence prevention?

My advice is to recognize that nobody ever starts in pitch-black. Everyone has gotten there from somewhere else. There is a path, and it relies on not being seen. The brighter the light we can shine on the path of individuals in need, the more we can stop violence.

Where is the industry going?

I have hope for the field of violence prevention. There was a time not so long ago when a person like me, a large man who gets on stage and talks about pain and abuse, would be ignored and ridiculed. The fact that I can do what I do gives me hope that the next ones after us will be even more able to address complex emotions with compassion and love. I see a bright future for the field.

Aaron Stark is an influential speaker, TED Presenter, and Global Positivity Advocate. He will deliver the keynote address at the 15th Annual NABITA Conference from November 13-15, 2023, in West Palm Beach, FL. For more information and to register for the conference, please visit