By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
---- — CLINTON — A modest turnout for an awareness walk to end child abuse left organizers thanking the "courageous few" who marched on Sunday outside the Clinton County Courthouse.
The event was put on by the Rainbird Foundation, a Wisconsin-based non-profit organization aimed at ending child abuse. Rainbird co-founder Hanna Roth came from Wisconsin to participate in the walk. Giving a speech before the approximately 40 people who attended began taking strides, Roth noted the size of the crowd.
"One of the things you can see by the number of people that are here today, is that people are afraid of child abuse. People are afraid of coming out for it. People are afraid of getting involved with it," Roth said, calling those who did attend, "courageous."
She said the biggest reason people are afraid to get involved is because child abuse is treated like an epidemic when it is a civil rights issue.
"It is not an epidemic. If I beat my child in front of you, you will not catch that and all of a sudden go home and beat your own. In fact, you will probably be outraged by what I've done. You will probably intervene or call the authorities and you will probably go home and hug your own. That is not the definition of an epidemic," Roth said. "We've treated it like an epidemic for decades. We really actually have a civil rights issue. Children's civil rights are being violated. They're being violated on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual basis. We don't have the kind of support we need for our children."
State Sen. Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, was one of the dozens marching for awareness Sunday afternoon. She also rallied fellow marchers before they took two laps around the courthouse.
"When we talk about the importance of standing up for children and their rights and working together against abuse, I think it's something we should all join hands together and work very hard to make a difference with this cause," Hart said.
She said there are many reasons why child abuse happens, but one piece grabs her attention.
"I particularly like to concentrate on the prevention aspect of child abuse. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can from the prevention aspect all the way through," Hart said.
Local Rainbird organizer Marie Sturtz also spoke to the people who gathered to support the cause. A handful carried signs asking for the end of child abuse. She said she felt that the work being done in the community has had an impact.
"People are starting to listen. They might not like what we have to say, but they are listening," Sturtz said.