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Warden raises awareness during Child Abuse Prevention Month

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall

Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall

Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall hasn’t decided yet whether to go with hot pink or a flashy red as he checks out nail-polish shades.

But Marshall is urging his male counterparts to participate in a campaign designed to raise awareness about child abuse, as October is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

He planned to paint one fingernail Monday and hoped “all area male municipal politicians join me,” Marshall said.

Called the Polished Man campaign, the painting of one fingernail is designed to bring attention to a troubling subject.

“One in five children under the age of 18 will be abused across Canada,” Marshall said, noting the abuse could be emotional, physical and/or sexual.

The campaign began in Australia as a conversation starter about another disheartening statistic — “one child worldwide dies every five minutes as a result of violence” — and features the tagline: “Nail it to end it.”

Provincially, the initiative has received a big boost thanks to the efforts of Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau.

Coteau, who painted his right index fingernail red Monday, has a Twitter account featuring numerous photos of MPPs, Queen’s Park staff and other men who have taken up the challenge and thrown on a little nail polish.

There’s also an accompanying video in which Coteau asks folks to take one fingernail and paint it sometime during October.

“Raise awareness about the issue,” Coteau urges viewers. “It represents the one in five, and people will come up to you and ask, ‘Why do you have one fingernail painted?’ And that’s the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, this is a serious issue and, as men, we’re taking a positive on it and we’re raising awareness.’”

Coteau said Ontarians should also consider donating to and supporting their local organizations that look at ways of combating child abuse.