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Here’s a multiple-choice quiz:

Which of the following should be part of a model school safety plan?

a)  Proven evidence-based models for school violence reduction that focus on preventing misbehavior and violence by promoting a healthy, positive school climate.

b)  Threat assessment, emphasis on positive behavioral interventions, social and emotional learning, nonviolent conflict resolution, and community engagement including parents, students, educators, and faith and civic leaders.

c)  Trained mental health professionals (social workers and psychologists) and school counselors to identify problems early and support students and educators.  

d)  Keeping school doors locked after the start of the school day, creating a space where children are safe to learn and teachers are safe to teach.

e)  Putting armed guards and more guns in every school in America.

f)  Arming teachers and principals.

g)  Putting law enforcement in charge of school safety and school discipline.

If you answered e), f), and g) give yourself a failing grade.  Despite the loud voice of the National Rifle Association (NRA), scholars, experts on school safety, and teachers overwhelmingly disagree with turning schools into armed camps rather than places of nonviolent positive learning. School safety is a non-negotiable priority. The current national debate about how best to achieve school safety is a natural result of the horror we feel when violence happens at a school like the unbearable Newtown, Connecticut massacre of 20 small children and their teachers.  We must do all we can to end school and community violence, but we need to make the right choices and make sure the solutions are effective and do not create other dangerous consequences for children.

That is the beginning of this Huffington Post piece by Marian Wright Edelman.  I am NOT going to quote any more.  

You should read it.

You should bookmark it.

You should pass it on to others.

But I have a few words of my own to add below.

We have the NRA and we have politicians of various stripes telling us what we need to do to make schools safe.

Once again decisions about schools are being made without listening to the voices of those in schools who best understand them -teachers, administrators, students - even their parents.

Also, once again, we are seeing a tendency to look at only part of the picture rather than seeing the entire context.

In this post from earlier today I spent some time discussing how looking only at the financial issues of schools means we do not properly address the needs of schools and the students and communities they serve.

The same can be said in dealing with issues of violence.

Some of the violence comes from within the school - too many incidents have been by immediate members of the school community.  

Newtown was different in that it involved an outsider.  What should be clear is that nothing done within the school, including armed guards, can address problems that come to the school from outside when society has not been willing address what causes those problems.

In Newtown it was accessibility to high-powered military style weapons and ammunition and extended magazines.

There is a parallel - to student who come to school lacking health and dental care, not eating properly, living in communities where violence is endemic and thus disruptive, whose families have been destroyed by drugs and by the imbalance in our criminal justice system.

There is a parallel to assuming that anything done just within the school will ameliorate the damage perpetuated from outside the school.

We have to stop address the problems we see in schools as if each was in its own separate silo, and address the problems of society that manifest themselves in the lives of our students, within and without the walls of our school buildings.

I do not usually post two diaries this close together.

Both point at things of which people should be aware.

Both presented me with an occasion to offer some commentary.

So I did.

Do with this what you want.

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:21 AM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:21:54 AM PDT

  •  Because of where I teach, we do have one armed (6+ / 0-)

    police officer on duty.  We also have several unarmed security staff--one or two uniformed, and two fine gentlemen who not only act as "security", but are also role model and counselor types as well.

    But a through d are what schools need to do.  Always.  And it's sad that d even has to be contemplated, but that's the way it is nowadays.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:48:19 AM PDT

  •  If the door should be locked, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep, Whatithink

    You are admitting that there is some danger of outsiders coming in to do harm. It's sort of a logical fallacy then to say that armed guards promote violence.
     I could agree that the police shouldn't be the first line of discipline for children, police involvement should only occur in the higher level problems, but to think that an armed guard is a detriment to safety sounds more than a little silly.  

    I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

    by heybuddy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:58:48 AM PDT

    •  Sometimes a locked door (0+ / 0-)

      acknowledges other issues--not necessarily violence in the community. In our elementary school, there are a lot of custody issues where non custodial parents try to "take" their kids.  Our door is now locked and all visitors must be buzzed in by the office where they sign in.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:16:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And that makes sense. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shypuffadder

        I would offer that Adam Lanza shot his way through a locked entrance and didn't have to worry about any armed guards. I further suggest that it never would have happened if there was a guard, because Lanza killed himself before any confrontation could occur. He seemed to prefer defenseless victims.

        Too much security is not what ails our schools.
        Union busting is the real enemy.

        I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

        by heybuddy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:51:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Or simple classroom disruption (0+ / 0-)

        To lose 5-10 minutes because a parent walks into a classroom with Poopsie's forgotten lunch or jacket is a big deal.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:44:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think you need to read the complete piece (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shypuffadder

      by Edelman.  You are responding somewhat simplistically, which is what the idea of placing armed guards in every school is, a simplistic reaction that does little to solve the real problems.

      And it tends to change what happens within schools in a way with negative consequences for students.  This is also very well documented, and very much a contributor to the school-to-prison pipeline which falls far more heavily on  poor children of color.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:16:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not simplistic to say armed guards (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        deter violence - its common sense. Like it or not, people with bad intentions are naturally wary of armed guards.

        You bring up an interesting point though about the school to prison pipeline.

        When I was in school, we would periodically have an assembly or an event where the police or maybe the fire dept would send over a few representatives to talk to us. We loved it. We loved them. And when kids broke laws... the cops came back to do their work. And you know what, it was educational. we learned that the world has consequences and there are limits to what the teachers will put up with themselves. And that made sense to everyone I knew.  

        If a kid ends up in prison after contact with the police while that kid was in school, trust me, it wasn't the cop's fault. You can try to argue that dealing with the police when you are a kid encourages you to be a criminal, but, personal experience tells me that it scares the poop out of normal kids, and that this kid walked the line after his little brush with the law.

        I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

        by heybuddy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:35:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  going to disagree some (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CwV

          police who are not specifically trained to work in school situations with adolescents are far to quick to resort to arrest, which then changes the dynamic of working with the kid.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:43:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Can you find one case where (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Samulayo, Whatithink

            a student was arrested from school and the teachers were unhappy about it? On the other hand, I just heard of a teacher making a big stink out of a pop tart nibbled into a gun shape by a some ridiculously young boy. The problem is not that they arrest too many good kids, they arrest far too few of the bad kids. Instead of a link I will just refer to every big city newspaper in the country. Drugs, weapons, gang activity and worse are pervasive in urban schools. They need more contact with police, not less, both to deter the other kids, and to protect them.

            Training some teachers to act as security also makes sense. They can protect coworkers and children alike, and one would assume they have that special ability to deal with young criminals that you believe regular police officers are incapable of.

            I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

            by heybuddy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:08:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Here's one: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WakeUpNeo

              If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

              by CwV on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 11:18:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Seriously? (0+ / 0-)

                Try being a gay kid in an urban high school. I have been assaulted in front of teachers who then claimed that I "was in a fight" as if I had wanted to fight several guys at once and lose badly, while getting called homophobic slurs and having my stuff taken. The teachers themselves were afraid of some of these guys. If it weren't for the school officers keeping certain areas reasonably safe, I would have left school in tenth grade. And while many people seem to hate cops here, The school cops I knew were brave and kind and they cared about me. They would smile at me and I knew they were watching out for me in particular. One of them followed a group of kids off campus and broke up a fight, and he got hurt in the process. He didn't have to risk his body to break up two guys who wanted to fight off school grounds, but he did. And he did it to stop them from hurting each other. Some people are just hate filled and violent. Trust me, if they target you, you want a cop, not a teacher near by.

                I say let each school determine it's own security needs.

                I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

                by heybuddy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 02:34:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Detriment to safety (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      If the armed guard takes money away from therapeutic intervention for the troubled students that every school has, to guard against horrors so rare that they make worldwide news, yes, that reduces safety.

      Introducing dangerous machinery has risks, too, small and controllable but significantly nonzero.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 01:39:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are thinking only of the mass shootings, (0+ / 0-)

        which are indeed, and thankfully, rare.

        On the other hand, There is daily violence in many of our high schools. I know, because I went to one. You can try your "therapeutic intervention" with armed gang members and other assorted thugs, but me, I want them arrested. I would argue most people do. Now some kids like to go to school with a whole bunch of criminals all around them, but I hated it. They should have removed many more of those "kids" that were in my school. It wasn't fair that we had to live in fear like that.

        I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

        by heybuddy on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 06:11:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It is not at all a guarantee that an armed guard (0+ / 0-)

      adds to safety.

      Any time you have someone armed, that means you have a weapon on campus, a weapon that can discharge accidentally, be taken from the guard, or perhaps worst of all, can be discharged tragically and mistakenly.

      You'd have to have at least two guards to be effective; one is a sitting duck.

      And each person needs a sub.

      These people cannot do any other duties at the school and maintain the expected vigilance.

      You might compare the cost and risk and benefit of this armed guard with the cost and benefits of two unarmed counselors.

      Different neighborhoods and different school populations may need different answers. But the reality is that, for example, a security checkpoint into a school just lines up all the kids in neat rows in an unsecured area at a predictable time.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:43:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The reality is that checking for weapons is (0+ / 0-)

        good policy. I can't even imagine how many weapons would be inside the school without them. What a silly thing for you to say. Spend one day in my high school and then come back here and tell us how foolish it is for them to check for weapons. Or how foolish it is to have armed security. And btw, if guards  need to use the "buddy system" to carry a weapon "efficiently" in a school, oh never mind. This is silly.

        I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

        by heybuddy on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 06:23:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am not sold on answers E, G, and F (0+ / 0-)

    Nor am I opposed to the concepts of them.  However, I do think it is time to put an end to the declaration of schools as being "Gun Free Zones" which are effective only at inconveniencing and endangering normal citizens.  When parents can't safely drop a student off at school, or a person with a concealed carry permit can't even so much as leave a lawfully owned handgun locked in their car, these doctrines become problematic.

    As with most things, I see the most practical answer lying somewhere between the extremes.

    •  the logical outcome of your thinking (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CwV, a2nite, joycemocha, WakeUpNeo

      that the answer lies somewhere in between is precisely what people on the political right of most issues, including the NRA, depend upon.  They move very far to the right to try to pull the middle closer to them.

      Sorry, but other than law enforcement there is NO reason whatsoever for people to have guns in schools.

      Far too many people who carry are not trained properly, including for being in educational settings.

      There is a wealth of evidence, including the videos ABC put out sometime back, that even demonstrate that some trained people do not react properly in crisis situations.

      In Tucson, someone legally entitled to carry came within a whisker of shooting the wrong person.  If one person pulls out a gun and other people have guns, start thinking about the cross-fire.

      Given the ammunition some are carrying, the bullets can go through walls and hit people outside the room.

      The answer to violence is not more violence.  The presence of guns does not deter violence as you think, but often leads towards more intense violence.  The presence of additional weapons can lead to the baddies simply shooting those with guns first, and remember, armed guards are usually easily identifiable, and that just gives them more firepower.

      The presence of guns in homes leads to far greater incidents of suicides, accidents, domestic disputes becoming fatal, than it does in deterring or stopping crime.  The evidence on that is also overwhelming.

      We have the highest rate of private gun ownership among industrialized democracies.  We also have a gun death rate that is appalling when compared to those nations.

      What is scary is that a decreasing percentage of households now own an increasing number of weapons.  Those arsenals are often poorly secured, and could quickly become a target for those seeking more firepower.

      We do NOT need more guns in schools.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:51:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It looks like there is no point in even having (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Samulayo

        this discussion.  If you say the answer is absolutely not, then I will do the opposite.  You can fight for a curtailing of gun rights and I will fight for an expansion of them.  In your reply, I see a bunch of anti-gun statements, that while I realize you believe them to be true and factual, I see as nonsense garbage.

        Several states, such as mine, are finally eliminating the restrictions on carry in schools.  As a school (college) employee, this impacts me directly and I very much welcome the change.

        •  umm, since when does this have to do with (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CwV, a2nite, WakeUpNeo

          gun rights outside of school?  You are arguing for expanding where guns can be carried and justifying it by Newtown, Edelman and I are saying that is not an answer to Newtown nor will it make schools any safer.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:45:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  On the contrary, I think the school GFZ makes (0+ / 0-)

            things less safe.  I work at a school (university).  It is in a very affluent town and is uber Liberal to the point where they have signs up about town regarding it being a GFZ.  That hasn't done a damned thing to stop the armed robbery, rape, murder, and burglary / home invasion that runs rampant around the area.  

            I am not trying to justify anything.  I am saying it is time to put a stop to the Schools = GFZ nonsense.  While I am not as radical in this regard as the NRA, I do think we should allow those who are willing, to take the training and obtain the certifications necessary to allow them to carry in educational environments.  In other word, not a mandatory arm the teachers, but a withdrawal of the forced disarmament.  Currently, a GFZ tells criminals that it is a safe hunting ground.  Allowing licensed individuals adds uncertainty into the equation and may make some criminals think twice.  Mountains of data has shown people with CC licenses a being problematic is exceptionally rare.  We should be using this to our advantage.

            •  I have worked in an inner city school (3+ / 0-)

              as well as one in a mixe environment as well as a suburban one.  I am flatly going to say having them gun free is of critical importance,particularly at athletic events where things can get very heated.

              "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

              by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 03:40:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If you believe that, then you clearly do not (0+ / 0-)

                understand the mentality and mindset required for carrying a concealed weapon in public, which makes your position on the matter more understandable.  When one carries a gun, they can no longer allow themselves to act, or react that way.  The news has plenty of examples of idiots with guns and it is still exceptionally rare for one of them to be a licensed individual, which says a lot about the mindset and mentality of those who choose to make that commitment.

                •  oh I understand it (2+ / 0-)

                  from a federal elected official with a concealed carry permit

                  from family in law enforcement at a federal level

                  from friends in law enforcement in state and local levels

                  and none of them seem to think that guns should be in schools

                  "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

                  by teacherken on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:38:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  An elementary school is a quite different place (0+ / 0-)

          from a college campus.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:47:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's so inconvenient (0+ / 0-)

      that you have to take your gun out of your purse when you go to the airport or report for jury duty too.

      I'm pretty good with random people not walking into schools with a gun. You can pick up your kid on the curb, or let her take the bus home.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:46:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Somewhere in some basement someone is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Dogs are fuzzy, WakeUpNeo

    planning to beat Lanza's top score. We treat guns as  sloppily as video games left laying about. Lose your gun, go to the store and get another. Someone finds your gun and kills someone, (children) a tragedy not a crime. Fire your gun by accident, haw haw haw, that was close. Or if you hurt some one, not a crime an accident.

    Why is there no discussion of electronic surveillance of schools?  It is very cheap. The parking lot surveillance could be broadcast to every parent of every child, to the police and fire departments, and the teacher's lounge. The parents could watch the parking lot on their iPhone. Panic buttons could be tied in to the police. Every teacher could have a panic button directly to the police.

    Putting guns in school is just disaster capitalism destroying public education. We can't afford music, physical education, art, drama and many extras, but we can afford guns. In guns we trust.

    guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

    by 88kathy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:58:09 AM PDT

    •   Undoubtedly , someone is planning on how to beat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Samulayo

      Lanza's score.  Part of what makes the whole response to Newtown so tragic is that it instead of focusing on ways to actually address the problem, it was seized as an opportunity to push a political agenda, i.e. an AWB.  The push and similar ones, like capacity limits, has all but failed, which I think it should have and I am glad that it is, but the end result is that we are worse off for lost opportunity.

      •  'That is all wrong, that won't work. You just want (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        my gun. That is what you wanted all along.'

        1. Keep your gun. No a gun is like a video game, people can take it from me and play it all they want, no big deal I will go to the store and get another. And it's not my fault.

        2. Don't shoot your gun by accident, no a gun is like a video game we just push re-set. Haw haw haw. And it's not my fault.

        You think they wanted your guns before Lanza, after Lanza II, they will take your guns. You of all people should know how to take care of your guns/video games.

        guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

        by 88kathy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:41:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What are the lost opportunities? (0+ / 0-)

        Do you agree with teacherken's list?

        Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

        by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 01:42:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I agree with the list (0+ / 0-)

          As I also said above, I don't have a problem with the last three items either.

          The lost opportunity has been discussed in several diaries.  Predominantly, a chance to enhance background checks, repeal the Tiahrt amendments, etc, as any legislation will most likely be stopped.

    •  well, this is awkward! (0+ / 0-)

      lol. your sig line.

      I'm afraid that my signature won't match the mood of my comment.

      by heybuddy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:32:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If responsible gun owners actually took (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        responsibility for their deadly toys instead of all the weasels, guns would be fun for those willing to step up to the plate.

        They can't possibly keep their guns. They run to the store and get another if their gun goes missing. Not their fault.

        They can't possibly lose the right to have a gun if their gun goes off by accident. They just get a bigger magazine. Not their fault.

        guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

        by 88kathy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:45:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I understand what you are saying (0+ / 0-)

    but while we write diaries, many children and parents live in neighborhoods and attend schools that are unsafe. And if I understand you correctly, you are saying that we need to have safer neighborhoods via reduced poverty and upward mobility hence leading to safer schools. Here is the problem, the poverty will always be with us, even if some ameleoration is seen and yet people still atend those schools. And even if poverty was completely alleviated, and gun rgulations inplace, illegal guns will still be a part of the landscape. So why not allow the wchools their own containment against violence. It is a long way off to having safe schools through safe neighborhoods...most of the kids would be grandparents by then.

    •  There are schools that choose to have armed guards (0+ / 0-)

      I trust that the local people know their neighborhood and are making informed choices with the hand they've been dealt.

      But I don't think it's something that outsiders should push on schools, especially schools that aren't theirs. And I think that for most schools, it's not the best use of money, not for security, and not for the education of the kids.

      For the schools where it is, that's what they will do. But we as a society own that failure, and should work to make it unnecessary instead of embracing it as some sort of movie fantasy. IMHO.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:52:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The tiny coffins that don't make headlines (0+ / 0-)

    The first items on the diarist's list can prevent suicides and the kind of retail, one-at-a-time, violence that kills more people than the notorious massacres but that gets almost ignored by the media.

    Alert and competent school professionals could save lives lost to domestic abuse, including the lives destroyed without actually being killed.

    Really, doesn't everyone think that measures like those would save more lives than either putting guns inside schools or removing them outside schools?

    Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 01:50:29 PM PDT

  •  Generally, I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

    Having had personal contact with a few school counselors, I am somewhat dubious of the value of item "c".   In theory, it sounds good.  In practice, it is a lot more problematic.  One example is the recent diary talking about how a school counselor had helpfully "outed" her child, and then argued with the child regarding the child's own status as gay versus transsexual, "outed" yet another child, and singlehandedly created a circus of conflict affecting the school, the kids, the parents, and doing serious damage to the the kid's dating and home situations.  

    Dealing with any counselor is like tossing a coin.   Half the time, they can improve the situation, and half the time, it's like helpfully offering a lead weight to a drowning person.   All it really does is to add one more adult into the mix.   That can be a good thing, or it can be a very bad thing.     I use the term "adult" in a broad sense, because I strongly question the maturity of some of the school counselors that I have encountered.    Often, their common sense has been surgically removed to make more room for religion or prejudice.  And, their assumptions about what they "know" are dangerously inaccurate.

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