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Is child punishment ever necessary? - Page 5

post #81 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

Your second...  if a child isn't development ready to understand the difference between right and wrong, I still have to stop them from harming another person or another person's property.  I can't just say "Sorry, my child isn't ready to comprehend the wrongness of this yet, so you'll just have to deal."   

I don't think anyone here would say that. We have an obligation to protect our children and the children they interact with. In my case, I would pull my kid aside and say, "I can't let you hurt him/her." I will sit with him until he calms down and then let him return to the play. If he just won't stop then we would go somewhere else.

Another question in the best regards (because I am a new mom), what do you do if explaining to your child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting? 

Like I said above, I would remove him from the area. If he did it all the time I would have to be really vigilant about preventing it and try to find out why he was doing it. Sometimes it might even mean not taking him to play dates until he is past that stage.

Sorry I'm typing on my phone. The middle paragraph in the above quote is actually part of my reply. :-)
post #82 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

Another question in the best regards (because I am a new mom), what do you do if explaining to your child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting? 

This is always the best question--one that I continually bring up because I am an anarchist at heart-- what if the child refuses to comply?  This is why I think that punishment (gentle) really is sometimes necessary for some kids in some instances.  Because there are children who refuse to comply, and for some things, it is important to stop them NOW.  For example, is picking up a child and removing them really gentle?  I doubt it, because it would not be an appropriate move for a child to big to be moved.  I am fine with removal, personally, but I definitely see it as a punishment because for many kids if they were big enough to effectively fight back, they would and that forces a parent to reconsider.  We need to extrapolate our actions onto children of other ages to help us gauge what is considered gentle.  Anyway, I can think of many possibilities along the spectrum of punishment/non-punishment for addressing hitting, but if we are exploring punishment as necessary or not, we need to address the "what-ifs", and the most important "what-if" is "what-if it doesn't stop the hitting"?

post #83 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post


I think that very young children aren't ready to internalize lessons on the whys of right and wrong.  This age varies from child to child, but I don't think one can expect to take a very young child and try to reason morals with him. I think most agree to remove a child that is doing something wrong from the situation, but is it always the best solution to then try to reason with a child that just isn't ready to comprehend what I'm saying?  I think in some situations, some sort of punishment is in order, something immediate that does let the child know such-n-such is not okay.  I'm a big believer in time-outs from my teaching days. 

I agree with your examples presented here, nor do I think traditional punishments are necessary all the time.  But I have a friend whose children are holy terrors because she doesn't believe in ever stepping up and being in charge as the mother. Her words, not mine. 

However, my parenting philosophy as it currently stands is "I'm the Mom, Baby is the Child, I am responsible for your well-being, I am therefore in charge, not you."  I probably will do variations of time-out, I will be taking away priviledges (it's not morally imperitive for my daughter to one day have a cell phone and a tablet) I will probably scold in the earlier years without bothering to explain why, and I will not seek to put explaining and talking through problems in too prominent a place before my daughter is ready to comprehend. 

IMO, if they are too young to understand very simple reasoning, then they are probably too young to understand why they are being punished. To me, it just confuses them, so why do it? I think at that age distraction or removal is best. And always very gently (although don't get me wrong. I have lost my temper more than once!)
post #84 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

This statement always seems to assume there is only one way to be a parent.  It assumes that how children behave right now this minute is the litmus test to the effectiveness of the parents to be "parents".  Unfortunately, to properly assess how "parent" a parent is can take the whole of a child's childhood.  The kids best behaved at this minute at 5yo are often the ones terrorizing frat row on a Saturday night.  

 

I know you are getting a lot of flack about this statement, and unfortunately you are getting the feedback about every time I've heard this, which isn't fair to you.  I just wanted to make this statement in general, not as a personal attack.  So, sorry if you are getting the brunt of it.

 

Not bothered at all, but I do have to ask which of two sentences you were referring to.  I think we may both be speaking in general!

post #85 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalia View Post


IMO, if they are too young to understand very simple reasoning, then they are probably too young to understand why they are being punished. To me, it just confuses them, so why do it? I think at that age distraction or removal is best. And always very gently (although don't get me wrong. I have lost my temper more than once!)


I agree with that, removal or distraction as good choices.  But they should not count as a lesson in if something were right or wrong.  Removal/distraction are just what they are, with absolutely no connection to the misbehavior.  If you removed or distracted a child, I don't think you should get to think you taught them a lesson or solved a deeper problem as I doubt the child will understand why he was removed.  Not against them by any means or trying to put words in your mouth, just saying. 

post #86 of 170

Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post


Happy to elaborate.  I was at lunch and thinking over my post with the thoughts "that was badly worded".  irked.gif

 

No worries!  love.gif

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

I really am in favor of gentle parenting.  But, as others in this thread have mentioned, I've seen kids who seem to have no behavioral skills whatsoever because their parents seem to be just too sweet and practically fearful of upsetting the child.  I'm sure this is what you mean by the delusion some people have of non-punitive parenting. 

I could have guessed that you had some "AP" friends who seemed GD in some ways who had some kids with seemingly unaddressed behavioral issues or seemingly permissive parenting.  What I can say to that first is that YES there are permissive parents out there. There are GD looking parents who are just permissive (but this is not GD, IMO). There are also a lot of families who do punish who are also permissive. Permissive parenting is lazy parenting and there are lazy parents who punish and lazy parents who don't punish. Punishing is not the cure for permissiveness - trust me!  (I apologize if the word lazy seems harsh...I am struggling for more gentle wording for what I'm trying to say)   

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

I think that very young children aren't ready to internalize lessons on the whys of right and wrong.  This age varies from child to child, but I don't think one can expect to take a very young child and try to reason morals with him. I think most agree to remove a child that is doing something wrong from the situation, but is it always the best solution to then try to reason with a child that just isn't ready to comprehend what I'm saying?  I think in some situations, some sort of punishment is in order, something immediate that does let the child know such-n-such is not okay.  I'm a big believer in time-outs from my teaching days. 

I think that maybe you're thinking that a punishment for a young child makes sense in a situation where they are developmentally unable to understand some lesson. I want to concur with what meemee said - just wait. In the question you phrased below about how to tell a young child that hitting is wrong...well hitting is "wrong" but why?  Hitting hurts. Young children can often understand that. That said, many children do not need to be taught that hitting is not something we do. Yes, some do, but not all (neither of my kids really needed anything more than one shocked moment from me before they realized that hitting is just not something we do - modeling!).  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

However, my parenting philosophy as it currently stands is "I'm the Mom, Baby is the Child, I am responsible for your well-being, I am therefore in charge, not you."  I probably will do variations of time-out, I will be taking away priviledges (it's not morally imperitive for my daughter to one day have a cell phone and a tablet) I will probably scold in the earlier years without bothering to explain why, and I will not seek to put explaining and talking through problems in too prominent a place before my daughter is ready to comprehend. 

 

Also, if you were a teacher you probably have some sense that kids tend to meet expectations. Teaching and parenting are different, obviously. I do tend to wonder how well Kohn would work in my DC's district (even though I know he has worked with disadvantaged discricts) and I have seen his homework philosophy in action and think it is better in theory than in practice. BUT, I have found his parenting philosophy to be pretty sound. That doesn't mean that I put a whole bunch of pressure to follow it to a T but we've been well served (as have our kids) by taking the punishment and rewards out of the daily equation. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

 

Your second...  if a child isn't development ready to understand the difference between right and wrong, I still have to stop them from harming another person or another person's property.  I can't just say "Sorry, my child isn't ready to comprehend the wrongness of this yet, so you'll just have to deal."   

 

Granted, I do believe right and wrong can be taught at age appropriate increments, and I believe one of those earlier levels is simply letting my kid know that behavior is not okay.  ICM mentioned age-appropriate expectations.  If they're not capable to comprehend why, they still need to know it's not okay.  I do believe that, if done correctly, extrinsic motivation can lead into intrinsic.

Sure! And I agree with your comment about the extrinsic -> intrinsic to some extent as well.

 

I also think there are a lot of young children's behavioral issues that just go away. That's a hard thing to accept as a parent. Of course it doesn't mean just letting your kid hit people or steals stuff (not to anyone with enough interest in discipline to post here!) but sometimes it means just intervening gently, over and over again until they grow out of it.  I know that probably sounds like the permissive way out but it's not permissive, it IS parent intensive but, IME, so is punishment and "waiting it out" is often (IMO), as effective as punishment when dealing with impulse control issues and developmental readiness. 

 

This is a bit off-topic but I can not say enough how long the concept of positive assumptions goes for kids - even toddlers. Try it!  Just ask your kid to do some small chore with the fullest bit of confidence that they will do it...and they will!  It's amazing.  Assume that they won't fall when they climb high. Assume that they will play well with others (and when they don't the best tool is the sheer shock from their parent at their behavior).  Assume that even if you were willing to hide their tail...that you will never need to. 

 

Yea, that's not the end of it but it's the start and it goes a LONG way, or at least it did for my kids (so far).  

post #87 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post


I agree with that, removal or distraction as good choices.  But they should not count as a lesson in if something were right or wrong.  Removal/distraction are just what they are, with absolutely no connection to the misbehavior.  If you removed or distracted a child, I don't think you should get to think you taught them a lesson or solved a deeper problem as I doubt the child will understand why he was removed.  Not against them by any means or trying to put words in your mouth, just saying. 

I'm not trying to teach them a deep lesson at that point. I'm just taking charge of the situation so no one gets hurt and also taking into consideration that what he is doing has more to do with development than "misbehavior".

Actually, now that I think of it one lesson he is learning even at a young age is that all people should be treated with empathy and compassion according to where they are in life. This is the most valuable lesson one can learn in my opinion.
post #88 of 170

There is also the question of whether kids need to be taught that hitting is wrong. Do they? 

 

I think that very question could use a bit of thought. I think that kids are essentially born to please and with the desire to fit in. Hitting in most settings would be ruled out by those two fairly basic qualities. Some kids do hit. I don't think it's because they don't understand that it's wrong (even though the concept of right and wrong may be a bit abstract for them - it is for me, even!).  

 

In general I think kids hit because it's interesting. It gives a reaction that creates a desire to understand that reaction. At the point that they realize that it's not cool, that it isn't what people like and that it's kinda anti-social, they may not have impulse control to stop (or are getting mixed messages from those around them).  

 

Or kids hit because they are angry and have not yet learned outlets for that. In that case the lesson is not that hitting is wrong but ways to express anger. 

post #89 of 170

"IMO, if they are too young to understand very simple reasoning, then they are probably too young to understand why they are being punished."

 

Well, kind of and kind of not. I think that instant punishment could function as operant conditioning in little kids--grab something you're not supposed to, get a smack. They can probably understand that connection before they can understand the actual reason for not grabbing the item in question (be that it's messy, hot, breakable, someone else is using it, whatever). Punishment that is at all delayed is pointless in this situation, because they won't connect it to the transgression. A child who is old enough to understand why a punishment is being done now for something they did previously is also old enough to communicate with by another technique. 

 

It's the same reasoning of squirting cats with a water bottle to send the "get off the table" message. If there is an instant correspondence between human seeing cat on table and human squirting cat, after a few rounds the cat might make the "get on the table, get squirted" connection. There would be no sense squirting the cat several minutes later as it would not make the connection. 

 

Not that I'm saying I favor smacking a toddler for grabbing something they shouldn't, but I can at least see why it might be effective. There are better approaches to those situations for sure. 

post #90 of 170

ICM, I will not quote your whole post but it was good and I think we may be more similar in views than we think.  I keep thinking "Yes, that's what I was getting at!"

 

As for punishment/rewards, I still believe in consequences, but rewards for every little thing?  Didn't grow up with it.  Sure, we did fun things and sure, there were occasional rewards (more like celebrations) for uncommon things, but by and large you did what you were supposed to do because that is how the family ran and you were part of the family.  Yeah, it is rather Kohn-ish.

 

I suppose that yes, I do believe in "punishments" according to my own definition:  consequences that may or may not be entirely natural, and I do believe in standing up, being the mother.  If I have to manipulate a consequence to protect my own interest even to model that others will protect their own interests, I will.

post #91 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

There is also the question of whether kids need to be taught that hitting is wrong. Do they? 

 

Leads into the debate of whether kids pick up on morals or need to be taught morals. 

 

No matter the path, I think most kids will eventually learn that hitting is wrong, at least socially undesirable.  But in those first hitting moments, they may not understand it causes pain, or care that it causes pain.

post #92 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

ICM, I will not quote your whole post but it was good and I think we may be more similar in views than we think.

Yes, I'm sure we do. I LOVE these conversations but dislike how the nitty-gritty philosophical stuff tends to divide parents who have way more in common that not. love.gif

post #93 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

ICM, I will not quote your whole post but it was good and I think we may be more similar in views than we think.  I keep thinking "Yes, that's what I was getting at!"

As for punishment/rewards, I still believe in consequences, but rewards for every little thing?  Didn't grow up with it.  Sure, we did fun things and sure, there were occasional rewards (more like celebrations) for uncommon things, but by and large you did what you were supposed to do because that is how the family ran and you were part of the family.  Yeah, it is rather Kohn-ish.

I suppose that yes, I do believe in "punishments" according to my own definition:  consequences that may or may not be entirely natural, and I do believe in standing up, being the mother.  If I have to manipulate a consequence to protect my own interest even to model that others will protect their own interests, I will.

I'm with you on the rewards thing. I also don't believe in constant praise. It's like, "Oh, little Ricky just sneezed! GOOD JOB!" Meanwhile, no one gives a crap if I sneeze LOL!!!!!
post #94 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post


Most of the time adults aren't given deliberately imposed consequences for their bad behavior.  It would be pretty unusual for your neighbors, relatives, coworkers, or acquaintances to give you a punishment, no matter how badly you treat them.  Other people might get angry with you, decide not to invite you to their party, tell mutual acquaintances bad things about you, and so forth, but unless you break the law or the rules at your workplace and get caught, you probably won't experience a deliberate punishment as an adult.  So why do kids need to be given deliberate punishments to prepare them for life as adults?

 

I agree that parents should teach their kids right from wrong, but I don't see how punishment is necessary to accomplish this.  Why isn't enough just to explain to your kid why hitting is wrong?  If it takes the threat of punishment to prevent him from hitting, that means he doesn't really feel it's wrong (or doesn't care that it's wrong.)  So you can punish him and that may affect his behavior, but how will it solve the problem that he doesn't really get the wrongness of hitting?

 

I tried to address this in my just-before-this post, but I don't feel I gave it enough attention. 

 

Your first paragraph... very true, great points, and I do see them and agree. 

 

Your second...  if a child isn't development ready to understand the difference between right and wrong, I still have to stop them from harming another person or another person's property.  I can't just say "Sorry, my child isn't ready to comprehend the wrongness of this yet, so you'll just have to deal."   

 

Granted, I do believe right and wrong can be taught at age appropriate increments, and I believe one of those earlier levels is simply letting my kid know that behavior is not okay.  ICM mentioned age-appropriate expectations.  If they're not capable to comprehend why, they still need to know it's not okay.  I do believe that, if done correctly, extrinsic motivation can lead into intrinsic. 

 

Another question in the best regards (because I am a new mom), what do you do if explaining to your child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting? 

 

If your kid is too young to understand why hitting is not okay, isn't he probably also too young to understand why he's being punished if you give a punishment?  Sure, you have to stop him from harming people and property, but that doesn't have to be done with a punishment.  You just physically stop him.  Showing disapproval with your voice and face can be helpful, too, and that really is a (mild) punishment.  Maybe physically stopping him is unpleasant to him so it also serves as a mild punishment.  But I can't see giving any punishment beyond that to a kid who's too young to get the concept of punishment.  Are you envisioning a different kind of punishment - something like time-out, maybe?

 

If explaining to my child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting, then I keep explaining, keep stepping in to stop him if he starts to hit, and try not to put him in situations that seem likely to lead to hitting.  And I ask myself why he's still hitting.  Is it lack of self-control?  If so, punishment probably won't help, because when he's mad enough to hit he's not going to be in control enough to think about the punishment he's going to get and stop himself in order to avoid it.  Is he not yet old enough to think about other people's feelings?  If he just doesn't yet fully understand the wrongness of hitting, he's probably not going to understand the rightness of punishment for hitting, either.  So the punishment is more likely to make him mad at me and sorry for himself than sorry for hurting someone else.  I don't think punishment is a good way of helping kids develop an intrinsic sense of right and wrong.  

 

But is it useful anyway, just as a way to stop a really undesirable behavior when a kid is too young to be intrinsically motivated to stop it?  Maybe, sometimes.  Generally, I think not.  As I mentioned above, if it's a self-control problem, punishment probably won't help.  But even if you're punishing something a kid can control, I think it often just creates more problems and doesn't help in the long run.  Punishment makes kids feel bad, and feeling bad can lead to acting bad.  Punishment may actually slow down the development of intrinsic motivation to behave nicely, because it encourages the kid to focus on how his behavior affects what happens to him instead of on how his behavior affects others.  Punishment teaches kids to be sneaky and to lie.  Punishment puts you and your kid in an adversarial relationship.  Giving punishments models behavior you probably don't want to see in your kid.  Do you want him trying to punish you or his siblings or friends for actions he doesn't like?  If you can punish him, why shouldn't he be able to punish you?  If your kid has a serious problem behavior you want to change, before going to punishment, why not try rewards for the desired behavior?  Rewards can be problematic too, but they're not likely to lead to the same level of bad, adversarial feelings.

 

Have I ever punished my kids?  Yes.  Did it work well?  Mostly not, I think, but I can think of a couple of times when it did, when they were very young.  We're talking pretty mild punishment, though.  When they were babies, I yelled "Ow!" for biting while nursing or when my hair got pulled, and that put a stop to those behaviors very quickly.  When DS was a toddler (under 1 1/2), he went through a phase where he kept climbing up on the table, and at first I kept just lifting him down and trying to move chairs to make it harder, but he kept doing it and both of us were getting really frustrated.  (It wasn't a very sturdy table; otherwise I might just have let him do it.)  Finally, I just made it very clear to him with my voice and my expression that climbing on the table was absolutely not allowed.  I stopped him immediately as soon as he started to climb up, and I didn't exactly yell, but I was very stern and emphatic.  It worked very quickly, and it made life a lot less frustrating for both of us.  I did the same thing when he got very interested in climbing onto the file cabinet next to my computer, and there was just too much not-baby-safe stuff up there for me to let it happen.  And it worked again, and really was much kinder than letting him get frustrated over and over by trying to climb and being stopped.  I don't know if I can think of any other times when I punished and ended up feeling like it worked well in the long run. 

post #95 of 170
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Originally Posted by dalia View Post

I No one here, who doesn't punish, is going to end up with kids in prison.
That's quite a crystal ball you have there.
post #96 of 170
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Originally Posted by choli View Post

That's quite a crystal ball you have there.

Why thank you. I love my crystal ball. I was looking at it just a few minutes ago and already knew you would make this comment.

Carry on. :-)
post #97 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

 

If your kid is too young to understand why hitting is not okay, isn't he probably also too young to understand why he's being punished if you give a punishment?  Sure, you have to stop him from harming people and property, but that doesn't have to be done with a punishment.  You just physically stop him.  Showing disapproval with your voice and face can be helpful, too, and that really is a (mild) punishment.  Maybe physically stopping him is unpleasant to him so it also serves as a mild punishment.  But I can't see giving any punishment beyond that to a kid who's too young to get the concept of punishment.  Are you envisioning a different kind of punishment - something like time-out, maybe?

 

This is where I've seen difficulty in this thread.  My ideas of punishments are vocal/facial disproval and a time-out where, yes, he doesn't get to play for a minute or two.  That time-out does give an immediate consequence where even if he can't understand he did something wrong, he does see a negative result for a wrong action.  Are these bad?  Do they really count as punishments?  Is it wrong to give a "no no!" and pull a kid away from a bad situation?  Are they punishments or are they not?

 

 

Quote:

 

 

But is it useful anyway, just as a way to stop a really undesirable behavior when a kid is too young to be intrinsically motivated to stop it?  Maybe, sometimes.  Generally, I think not.

Again, just asking this in the spirit of learning: If you can't intrinsically teach a child to not do the undesirable behavior and it NEEDS to stop, is it better to just wait for better behavior or work harder on stopping the behavior?  As aforementioned, is "no no!" and a removal out of the question due to potentially being too harsh?  If removal is a punishment, is it too harsh?  Is it better to not let the kid know the behavior is not okay until he can understand why it isn't, or find a way to let him know it's undesirable early on and teach the whys later? 

 

Quote:
Punishment makes kids feel bad, and feeling bad can lead to acting bad.

 

This may be a derail, but it's something I've been thinking about. I do disagree with punishment to primarily make kids feels bad rather than to help them solve a problem or learn a lesson (as opposed to being taught a lesson).

 

But, in and of itself, is it so wrong for kids to feel bad about things they did?  Isn't this just what we want intrinsic lessons to lead to? 


Edited by Backroads - 8/6/13 at 6:20pm
post #98 of 170
I definitely say "No!" in some situations. I don't see how that can be avoided all the time though I am open to it. I mean, if my kid is about to throw a brick at someone you can bet I'm gonna be shouting LOUD. I consider that a very natural thing, and not a punishment. And if he did throw a brick you can bet we would be having a big talk about it. But when my kid was really little he tried to throw a big piece of wood at someone and all I did was take it away because it wasn't something he should have been playing with. And I did shout "NO!" to stop him from throwing it.
post #99 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

I would love to agree with you, but my younger daughter absolutely melts if she doesn't get her way and she knows it's in my power to change things.  So, if I can change it into something she prefers but don't, then it is a punishment no matter my intentions.  I would agree with the comments about intentions in theory, but in practice I think it can become a meaningless delineation.  I mean, even parents who do clearly punish, or those of us who strive for less punishment might have the similar intentions.  Too subjective.

i agree its really subjective and hard to describe too. but there is so much in the unsaid communication that kids pick up. it also depends on personality. and their sensitivity. obviously at 1 1/2 putting on clothes to go to a drs. appt when dd wanted to stay naked was going against her wishes. however you can make them see it. for instance when dd was 1 i poked her with a push pin so she understood why i wouldnt let her play with the push pin. and she got that. 

 

but then again it all comes down to semantics. is it really punishment.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

Another question in the best regards (because I am a new mom), what do you do if explaining to your child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting? 

how are you explaining? first of all if you are not using the language of a child you will go nowhere. you might as well speak washo. second of all they have to understand you. so telling a 2 year old is not the same as telling a 20 year old. to make it equal you need to repeat, repeat, repeat multiple times a day for at least 2 weeks before your 2 year old gets it. 

 

that's why the first 3 years you are either a pantomime clown as i was or the greatest diverter in town. you either make a game out of it, or you remove the child. 

post #100 of 170

 Quote:
Originally Posted by Backroads View Post

This is where I've seen difficulty in this thread.  My ideas of punishments are vocal/facial disproval and a time-out where, yes, he doesn't get to play for a minute or two.  

No, this is not punishment. I mean, I suppose you could stretch it but that goes beyond simple semantics to possibly turning every interaction with our kids to a reward or punishment. So, no, I do not think this is punishment. This is communication. I do think it's better if the look on a parent's face is genuine but even a slightly exaggerated response is a form of communication on the level of a pre-verbal child.  

 

I do NOT think that gently picking up a child who is not playing well is a time-out...but I think it can be depending on the spin a parent puts on it. I think the child receives the message best if the child understands that they are being removed to protect the other kid.

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