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A Bully Can Kill Your Child, but Teachers are Fired for Taking Action

Patty has advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology, with 35 years of work in allergy and other autoimmune treatment.

No one should be bullied.

No one should be bullied.

An American youth attempts suicide every 42 seconds or more often. Many times it is the result of bullying.

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A Serious Epidemic

School bullies can kill other children. Bullies do kill other children

CDC; 2008 -- An American youth attempts suicide every 42 seconds or more often. Many times it is the result of bullying.

This statistic has been realized in my home state and my home city as well as many others in the US. Further, some children that are bullied and cannot tolerate it, stand up to it, or receive help from adults, commit suicide.

The incidence of these phenomena is receiving increased 21st century press, because of young suicides resulting from Internet bullying.

The rise in teen suicides in America is evident -- In 1950 the rate of suicide among 15-19 year-olds was 2.7 per 100,000. In 1990, it had increased to 11:1 per 100,000, over 300% more. 2008 -- An American youth attempts suicide at least every 42 seconds.

The activities of abuse are more rampant in America than in previous years. However, some communities are making significant strides in solving the problem. Many Canadian communities and their school systems have outlawed bully activities of all kinds and take legal action against school bullies.

Children must be supported by adults in a community and an educational system in which they can depend on the fact that bullyism will not be tolerated and which teach children how to stand up to it.

Teacher Fired for Stopping a Bully

A teacher sued her school district after she was fired for stopping a bully in her classroom who was lowing his nose on classmates, pushing them, and using inappropriate language to them.

Teacher Nicole LeMire in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio stopped the bully in her Grade 5 class in 2014 and allowed the students to express their pain and dislike of his behavior.

This was a following of best practices that mental health professionals and advocates for anti-bully and anti-abuse programs promote. LeMire's reward was job termination. Why? Because the bully's parents complained. LeMire sued.

Abuse and Bullying In a Suburb

Dorothy Espelage, a professor of educational philosophy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and an expert on bullying, says that LeMire’s choice to publicly confront the bully is exactly what teachers should be doing.

— Rachel Bertsche, Yahoo Parenting, May 18, 2015

Adults Can Help

Some adults in authority do not want to confront the problem of bullyism at school, this lack of action related to:

  • They don't know there is a problem - the target child has been told not to tell, or is afraid to tell all on their own, without being threatened.
  • Disbelief that the problem is real or not taking the problem seriously
  • Fear of confrontation with the bully, school administration, bully's family, the press, others
  • Not wanting to suffer repercussions from the bully or his/her family and the community
  • Not wanting to "do the paperwork"
  • Lack of energy to put forth the effort to fight bullyism
  • Hoping someone else will solve the problem [Kitty Genovese Syndrome]
  • Belief that the bullied child got what they deserved
  • Belief that kids should fight it out - sometimes it works, not usually if the bully is the victim of abuse at home and/or has an SMD (Severe Mental Disorder)
  • Some parents punish their children for getting bullied, because their child is "causing a problem."

20-Second PSA -- Anti-Bullying

Bystander Syndrome and Non-Action

In 1960s New York City - March 4, 1964 - Catherine Genovese was knifed to death in an area akin to a high-rise apartment building courtyard while tenants and passersby looked on and did nothing to help her, not even calling for the police. -- Simon Dinitz, a second generation founder of criminology. - This phenomenon is also called the bystander syndrome. Spectators used the excuse that it was a "lovers' quarrel" or "drunken fight" by people leaving a bar.

My own thoughts are these: Kitty worked in a NYC bar and got home at 3:15 AM -- both of these facts of 1) a higher-risk nighttime occupation and 2) late hours hurt her chances of getting into her apartment unharmed in a high crime city. However, we need to work to eliminate all of these crimes as well.

Scroll to Continue

The Genovese killer was, in fact, caught, jailed, and denied parole again on March 8, 2008, 44 years later almost to the day he killed Kitty. He was stopped. He will likely die in prison.

Bullycide: Homicide & Suicide Examples

The US National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) reports that youth and children fear bullyism violence far more than terrorist attacks to the US. NCPC adds to the advise later in this column to:

LISTEN to your child and BE ALERT to symptoms that he/she is a bullying target - emotional or behavioral withdrawal, dropping grades on school work, changes in appetite, torn clothing, or asking for extra money and/or school supplies. TEACH your child non-violent problem solving skills and the ability to make supportive friends.

Examples from Canada:

February 1998

Myles Neuts. Age 10. Hung by the throat from a coat hook in school at Chatham, Ontario. Died four days later. Hung by two older boys waiting in a bathroom for him. While he slowly strangled on the hook, the boys brought their pals to see "the dummy", but one finally told a teacher. Not in time to save his life.

March 2005

Gary Hansen. Age 16. Suicide in Manitoba Province. Pulled out of school because of bullies in elementary years, was homeschooled, and returned to public high school, earning good grades. Gary restored a 20-year-old snowmobile to excellent condition and six boys taunted him in envy for nearly three months. The six boys attacked him and called him gay negatively in public. He went home and hung himself without telling anyone about the attack. Jennifer Laviolette, librarian of the local library, wrote a letter to the editor about bullying in the city, receiving many positive reactions. Petitions circulated to begin anti-bullying programs in Manitoba, which have begin to develop.

  • Get Help from BULLY POLICE USA - USA & UK
  • Get Help by reading the advise below.
  • Headaches, dizziness could be signs of bullying - Yahoo News

    From Yahoo News: By Kathryn Doyle NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A variety of symptoms that can seem vague or mysterious may signal that a child is being bullied and having trouble coping, according to a new analysis of research on the topic.

"Bullying" - Recorded by a young target, December 2007

Why Do Bullies Bully?

Some people see violence and bullying in cartoons as young children and think its funny. Recall that America is the country that saw the real punches and kicks on the vaudeville stage by Ted Healey and His Stooges and later The Three Stooges as funny.

A\ll this occurred in reactions live and on film between the late 1890s - 1970s (80 years), when people began to look at abuse more seriously and seek a stop to it. While the movies put a stop to actual physical contact early on, young children did not realize it. Cartoon violence affects some young children as well, not all.

Recall also that this is the country that derived humor in some parts at some times from physically and verbally abusing slaves, Chinese, and some Native Americans, as well as other immigrants that were not WASPS [White Anglo Saxon Protestants]. Animal torture has also been seen as highly humorous in some sectors - setting fired to turpentine rubbed on farm cats, for example.

This is a country that contains some sectors in which some people still torment gays/lesbians/transgendered, etc; women, men that don't like sports. high academic achievers, and a newer group -- high school boys that are under 6 feet tall. That one is occurring in our western suburbs here.

In summary, one reason that some bullies bully is that others find it funny or harmless, and the targets "probably deserve it anyway." In truth, it is all about "power over" others.

I solved this in my high school myself when I was a junior, because no one would ever help me, starting back in the 1st grade.

Juniors and seniors would make fun of freshmen and sophomores, calling them names, hitting and kicking them, tripping them, and telling them they could not use the water fountains or bathrooms until upper classmen were finished with them.

One morning, three senior boys started in on 4 younger boys and girls in this manner when I was 5th in a line of 12 seniors and juniors at a water fountain. I shouted (in front of teachers, who were put on the spot), "This is not going to happen any more; get in line ahead of me." It was so sudden and so surprising that a girl would do this at the time, that the tradition of water fountain and bathroom hazing ended. It just lost its wind, since the teachers thought they needed to enforce it since they'd heard it and could not escape it via not knowing.

Later that day in a study hall in the auditorium, two girls my age from Russian Club ran up to my seat and told me to get up and bow down on the floor because I was newer to the club. I ignored them and other students laughed. Study hall ended, I went to the Russian Club teacher and school principal and quit the club; the teacher was called before the principal. The bowing down initiation ended.

Throughout 10 previous years of school, I had become fed up with minor hazing to verbal and physical bullying, saying that enough is enough after 10 years. I took things into my own hands, because adults would not help previously.

How many kids can do this? We need to teach them to resist a bully very early in life.

Additional Causes

Mental health issues cause a certain percentage of children to become bullies. Abuse and Bullying are both "power over" other people. They are a means to control others. Children must learn not to be controlled by bullies and adults much teach them.

Child abuse at home is one cause of these mental health issues. Abuse is often inter-generational. However, other mental health concerns can cause bullyism to manifest and a doctor should be consulted in order to rule out physical or nutritional causes first. A child can also learn to be a bully from watching others bully people and animals - and verbal abuse is the first step toward physical abuse in the majority of reported cases. (Nip it in the bud there!)

Some children stand up for themselves, so the bully turns it around and accuses the target of being the bully. Adults need to see through this ruse.

Taking a Stand - by Tony Bartoli, who has Cerebral Palsy

How to Handle a School Bully

Canadian school principles advise us to use and teach the following methods that they have found effective during the last 10+ years. American researches, teachers, and principals have gathered corroborating evidence for the following as well:


  • Stand up straight and look the bully in the eye seriously and strongly.
  • Say politely and firmly, "Stop _____ (state the behavior), I don't like it. Leave me alone."
  • Try to disengage by not crying or looking fearful, if you can. In any way, disconnect by walk away.
  • Report the bullying immediately to a trusted adult and adopt an attitude they you expect action to be taken against the bully.

Families of Targets

  • Call the school anonymously, and ask if there is a bullying policy and ask what it is.
  • If you are then sure that your child will not be retaliated against, tell the school officials about the specific bullying and state the exact date, time, and place and the name of the bully and your child.
  • Follow-up continually with the school and ask about specific action taken and how your child will be kept safe.

Further Advise

  • If there is no anti-bully policy in the school system, teach your child the steps in "Children" above.
  • Self defense classes may or may not help. Many school systems in the USA forbid children to physically defend themselves at school. Parents in families of most of my martial arts students tell the kids to defend themselves if they need to and smile and be cooperative through their detention.
  • Be careful, because a number of martial arts school owners are not qualified in certain areas of the country. Martial arts are not regulated by law and anyone can open a school, even if they have never studied martial arts, or are low-ranking black belts without enough experience (there are 10 to at least 18 levels of black belt, perhaps more, depending on the style of martial arts.)
  • Ask your local police department how you should handle the situation.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 22, 2014:

@Jimmy's Money Blog - I was bullied a little, but got tired of seeing so many kids bullied every day. It was everywhere. By high school, I began shouting every time I saw it. Usually, the bullies became embarrassed and walked away. Peace to you!

Jimmy on March 22, 2014:

This is a great hub that has really hit home. I was bullied as a scool kid and hated the thought of heading to school. The only thing that got me through the daily torment was the thought that I would meet my bullies again some day. When you're older (I'm and senior level kickboxer training with a twice world champion), you get the gratification, if you're lucky:-) of meeting you're bully.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 02, 2012:

Congratulations for your progress, but more for sticking up for the less able to do so. This sounds like a good example from you and I hope you have lots of friends because of it.

audrey on February 02, 2012:

ive been bullied all through school ever since i was little, when i tried to defend my self i got in trouble but not my x who was hitting me and shoving me we had to take it to court and it still never solved it. this year my mom pulled me out of school now i take full time online classes. Sometimes its like no one understands the pain and nightmares it leaves a person with. Now i stick up for everyone and anyone i see getting bullied, In a way i think it helped me mature quicker and show me i could help make a change.

David on January 14, 2012:

Just enroll your kid in a martial arts class. It did wonders for me when I beat up the kid bullying me, never had a problem again. :)

Make sure it's real martial arts though.

Kathryn L Hill from LA on December 09, 2011:

I believe your child is important enough that If there is any hint of bullying you should PULL HIM OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL and keep him out until the problem is completely, utterly SOLVED. Until then, find an alternate educational environment. Home school can become the option of choice. Neighborhood groups can be formed, if needed. I'm sure B. Franklin would approve, in today's climate! Be ready before you enroll your child in public school to have the home school affidavit ready to go.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 14, 2011:

Anonymous - I hope your teachers and administration help you more. If you have a guidance counselor or nurse at school, that would be a person to contact as well. Do you have a school police officer? That might help.

Otherwise, I would not speak to him; I would walk away from him every time and ignore his statements as much as possible. If he escalates, you have reason to complain to the school principal.

Anonymous on November 14, 2011:

Thanks for posting this. It has given me hope of a better future. I've always been bullied or abused, (I switch schools and my mom is... A little messed up to say the least). I had finally bwgun trusting people and had a boyfriend and another frien who was my brother in all but blood but then my brother left me for new friends and my boyfriend bullied me a little, broke up with me, and now makes me dread going to school. Ive told my parents and 1 teacher and i stood up to him and said, "Nathan. I don't like that at all. Stop it now please." but he laughed and kept saying mean things. I want to die and have attempted to a few times but i cant do it. Ill try telling a few more teachers and see if anything changes.

Leslie Caverson from Virginia Beach, VA. on September 28, 2011:

We just had a high school girl kill herself at one of our local High School's this week. Her friend's put up balloons over one of our bridges, offering support to her family. Every time I go under it I pray for all those who lost her, and I think what a shame it is. Kid's can be so mean. There needs to be these anti-bulling programs set in place. Thanks for the post.

ambrking from Encino, California on September 27, 2011:

Thanks for writing the hub Patty. Bullying should not be tolerated. Everybody should work together to make this stop especially schools since most of these happens there. Teachers and staff should always be on watch.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 27, 2011:

Thanks for sharing your story with bullying. Parents and teachers MUST back up and support and defend these kids trying to stand up to bullies. Among wildlife, pecking orders kill animals -- I cannot accept bullying as a grand pecking order to be tolerated. Thanks again.

Xinox Leugim from Philippines on September 27, 2011:

It's so shocking to know that bullying is rampant in the other parts of the globe and that one of the causes why teenage suicide on the rise. It's so horrible to know that it is this way just like hazing in our country claimed lives of helpless victims. This has to be really put to stop else many of our children will live to have little worth of themselves. I can relate on this since my son is kind of victim of moderate bullying also in school. He is skinny, soft spoken and his teeth has to be fixed so that some of his classmated would poke fun of him. Good enough bullying in our country is not that intense but it bleeds my heart when I hear that he is making fun of. One time this naughty classmate of his, accidentally forwarded a text to me which he has composed from the cellphone of my son to be sent to their classmates stating that my son is sissy/homosexual. See, how this rascal showed disrespect. I was really enraged by this! I vehemently insisted that I be given the number of this unscrupulous chiled and I told my son that if he is infront of me I would slap him on the face. I told my son that this classmate text me and tell me sorry. This frightens this classmate of his and later he did texted me and asked sorry. I told the child that should you be in the place of my son, would you like what you did to him. I told him that every mother would feel the pain of his child so that he must have been able to think of how his mother would feel if another child would make fun of him. I threatened him that should he does the same thing in the future to my son I would see him and will sanction him appropriately. In the end, he did was able to understand my point and promised that he would no longer tease my son and that he be nice to him. From then on, that kind of bullying stopped. I think, we parents should be able to avert this kind of bullying once our children show telltale signs that they are not treated well in school. Our children may be helpless and their teachers may even not be able to protect them so that we parents must be at their rescue to prevent them from eroding this self esteem. Every school must really have a policy to discipline and punish these "bullyers". Should we not be responsible enough to control this undesirable occurrence in school, we only put our children to greater detriment both in their emotions and self-esteem. Lest this be resolved upon immediately, this will affect how the children see themselves which will impact on their confidence which in turn will affect on how they confront the variey of challenges in life that await them.

Gustave Kilthau from USA on September 26, 2011:

Howdy Patty - I think that many people will benefit from studying your article. At this moment late in my life I have what could be called "MDD," that is, memory deficiency disorder (!). However, I do remember one thing I did versus bullies that served me well during my earlier years during which I was skinny and lightweight - a typical target for bigger bullies. I would look them in the eye and remind them that they would not always be looking out for me catching up to them, awake or asleep, and that I was plenty strong enough to swing a baseball bat - and that their head was a lot larger than a baseball - thus much easier to hit. That always seemed to rid me of those pests.

Gus :-)))

drkathleenfuller from 322 SW Ocean Blvd, Stuart, Florida 34994 on September 26, 2011:

Thank you for this article - It is full of helpful actions to take.

Joe on January 19, 2011:

I walked out of HS in 10th grade - I had enough. Homeschooling was the best way after that and Ill never set foot on a public school again.

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on October 24, 2010:

I read your wonderful article. Bullies need to be punished harshly. If you do the crime, you must do the time. Bullies need to be placed in reformatories and prison to be taught a lesson and to deter future bullies from doing the same thing. All of this anti-bullying talk does no good. The right way is to castigate, isolate, and punish the bully. Place the bully in a tough reformatory and/or a strict prison!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 21, 2010:

The bullying teacher should be removed form teaching. A class action suit against the school might succeed if an attorney would take the case pro bono and th enews media hopped on it, allt eh better.

Crimson Sorrow on October 21, 2010:

I can honestly say that bully related suicide is on the rise....My 8 year old daughter has threatened to kill herself four times since she was 5 years old because of the level of bullying she has experienced at school and in our neighbourhood. And the teachers at her school will not do anything about it. They keep telling her that she is not being bullied but yet she fears for her own safety at that school. And to top things off, one of the bullies is a teacher. And right now I'm powerless to do anything more than cuddle her and let her know that she is not at fault for this treatment she's getting that her family loves her very much...

It is so pathetic that our society has come so far to be so dumb.

missionbillion from Oceanside on October 11, 2010:

Recently a man jumped on a school bus and almost beat some kids that were tormenting his little girl. I feel for him and it's gonna get to the point where parents start taking matters into their own hands since the schools or bus drivers don't seem to do anything to stop it.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 28, 2010:

The effects are long-lasting, indeed. The phenomenon must be dealt with on a global level.

Linda J Smith from Google on April 28, 2010:

a school bully is killing me everyday and I'm not even in school anymore. That's how much effect there bullying has on these kids!!

Linda J Smith from Google on April 23, 2010:

I agree 100%! I was bullied all through grade schooland junior high and it has affected my self-worth my whole life. I am still in therapy. This needs to be stopped! Before another innocent life is lost to these bullies! I couldn't have said it better!

Beverly on April 16, 2009:

Everyone please listen, This is a very servious problem that face our schoool, Bullies are killing our children. When are we going to stop the bullies, When it too late and our love ones are gone. Is that when everyone remember the person everyone laugh at tease the inocent child... WE Must Stop the Bullies...

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 25, 2008:

I am sorry for the loss of your son, but thank you for the additional information. How are you handling the bullying now?

edaducha on November 25, 2008:

We have all been bullied in our family and my son committed suicide. My daughter and I are still abused by cops and firemen, postal workers, doctors, nurses, etc. Check out mobbing and gangstalking on the Internet and you will find a lot of information.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 19, 2008:

Thanks for that insight, Two Cents.

Much of America does coddle or makes excuses for or wrongly protects bullies, alcoholics, drug abusers, all kinds of abusers of other people, etc. and blames the targets of these folks. In a "dysfunctional" family or workplace setting, for instance, the most well-adjusted proactive individual is the one that gets jumped verbally and even physically by the others.

Bullies are indeed a worsdt manifestation of society and of themselves.

Thank you again.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 06, 2008:

Thank you ALL for the fine comments and for recognizing the problem that bullying can be and is in some places. Just_Rodney, thank you for sharing your experience, because ti will insiopre others, as has Monnmaidens and all the comments here.

In 1994. our preventive medicine group did a survey of the worst problems in schools Pre-K - 12, preschool, and daycares and found that the Number One reported problem in our county was violence. This made me very alert to the problem. We can solve the problmem with awareness and action.

Thanks again to all of you here.

Woody Marx from Ontario, Canada on September 06, 2008:

Complete and pertinent hub! It is certainly as much a problem here in Canada as it is in the States...I was bullied for short time until I disovered I could run faster than the bullies (who tend to be on the stocky side and out of least back in the day) I survived. Today they are all probably doing time somewhere. :)

Rodney Fagan from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on September 06, 2008:

Patty, Great Hub, as always.

Way back in nuresery school we had a bully that really used to terrorise any and every one. His favourite ploy was to find the person who he could intimidate the most, then proceed to make that child's life a misery.

He started to 'hunt' me and as I was a stubborn and fairly self driven type of individual, I did not report this to the 'teachers'. However one day we were doing a tidyup of the tortoises 'home'.

What happened next, as I reported to the 'teachers', I had picked up a rock and was moveing it to the far side of their garden, when I, having been bumped by the bully I turned to face him and the rock fell out of my hand and landed on his toe. No witnesses.

What had happened was that, he was in in my face and taunting me, I threw the rock down as hard as I could. It was self defence.

The end result was that he did not pick on me again, if he was bullying any all I had to do was walk over to his attemted current victim and befriend them.

He soon quietened down, and stopped his bullying.

I was warned by the teachers not to lift and carry things around as, as I had seen, accidents happen.

Rule number 1, learn to defend yourselves! Teach your kids to talk and be open with you, so that they to can learn to defend their human rights.

Gary Eby from Cave Junction, Oregon on September 05, 2008:

Right on target with this hub. Thank you for presenting it. I believe the schools need to become more proactive with mental health services. Children can be taught non-violence, anger management, and self-esteem. Please see how I try to help others in new ways. Sincerely: Gary Eby, author and therapist.

mulder from Warnbro Western Australia on September 05, 2008:

unreal Hub Patty thank you so much for answering my request this a fantastic full of great info My son has been bullied at school its very upsetting stuff but we have sorted it out thank goodness . I dont put up with bullies of any kind . You hub has brought more awarness to this horrible situation .

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on September 05, 2008:

I feel ill when I read about this kind of stuff. I appreciate all the suggestions you offer, Patty. This is crazy-making.

VioletSun from Oregon/ Name: Marie on September 05, 2008:

I had tears when I read about this bullying problem, thank you for bringing this into our awareness and addressing this problem.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 05, 2008:

amy jane - I wish every good thing for you and your children. The more we know, the better we are able to stop the problem.

Moonmaiden - It is patently absurd and gut wrenching that this type of behavior is occuring, isn't it? My heart goes out to them all. Thank you for calling the police about the young man holding his girlfriend captive. I back you up in feeling we need to be more involved and also do this whenever I see such a situation. People may not always like us for "interfering" but it is the right thing to do.

Fayme Zelena Harper from Lucerne Valley, CA on September 05, 2008:

Can you believe that one guy in the video was thrown to the ground 120 times? Totally unacceptable. I stood up to my first bully in sixth grade. Luckily my teacher came out about that time and backed me up.

And most recently I called the police when I heard a teenage boy upstairs forbidding his girlfriend to leave the house and heard her yelling, "Stop it you're hurting me."

We have to get involved or nothing will ever change.

About a month later that boy got thrown into jail for possessing a gun.

amy jane from Connecticut on September 05, 2008:

Thank you for writing this and raising awareness of this heartbreaking issue. As a parent, it is terrifying. Knowing as much as possible about what goes on is helpful.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 05, 2008:

You are so right about that, Moonmaiden. And bullying occurs all the way through the oldest old age. Internet bullying compounds the problem, because it's so devesating to kids - seeing a webpages full of lies about oneself, etc.

Fayme Zelena Harper from Lucerne Valley, CA on September 05, 2008:

I'm so glad you are addressing this topic. High school in the 70's was bad enough, but the Internet has made it so much easier to get into people's private lives and cause trouble.

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