Child Leashes; Parenting tool or Cop out?

Barb - posted on 11/20/2010 ( 181 moms have responded )

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Recently a woman was arrested for dragging her toddler through a cell phone store on his back with a leash. Here is a link to the video and short story: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a88_12490...

I couldn't find the video but recall seeing one where a mother and child were standing on one side of a partition in a store, the child was near the end, and a stranger was at the end near the other side and lured the child away from the mother in a matter of a seconds. The leash would have prevented this from happening, so would have the mother paying attention or holding the child's hand.

My own personal experience is, i've never used a leash on my kids. I have lost my youngest in a store before. We were in Sears, in the boys section, they had a game set up with the controller out at his height and the tv up above. I was checking out clothes in the rack behind him, thinking i had a few minutes since he would be engrossed in the game. The next time i looked up he was gone from the controller and my heart stopped. Then i heard them calling my name over the loud speakers. I felt relief but i don't know what my face was showing because when i was running to automotive to get Jr he saw my face and stepped behind the sales clerk to hide LOL. I hugged and kissed him and she said "you must be mom?" i would hope so! Still, i never bought a leash, i just used that experience to praise him for going to a store clerk to help find me. And to teach me to grow a wondering eye that stayed trained on him.

So what do you think? Parenting tool? Necessary safety device? Unnecessary tool, or Cop out/Lazy parenting?

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181 Comments

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Meghan - posted on 11/24/2010

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Aww, Tina!!!
I have to admit, before coming on COMs I thought there were totally humiliating...but a lot of mom's on here have opened my eyes. I also have a severely autistic nephew and while talking to my brother I realized how ignorant I was being :)

Tina - posted on 11/24/2010

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Meghan I like the way you put that. Even though you choose not to use them yourself, you dont diss on those of us that do choose them for our children. You are very right in that there are people who abuse them. As i choose to use one for my daughter. I am also disciplining her when she tries to take off. I use it as extra insurance so to speak for the safety of my daughter not as a tool for me to not parent my child. Thank you for yout comment and being respectful.

Meghan - posted on 11/24/2010

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I didn't read the other comments so I don't know if this has already been said but about 2 weeks ago there was a "skit" about this on a show called "what would you do?" They had a few different scenarios where the mom or nanny used one and in most she was acting a little aggressively (and to be fair in one skit she actually tied the kids to a meter and picked up the dog LOL)..anyway, I was AMAZED at how many people were outraged by the use of this tool.
I personally would never use one on my son, for me to use one for him would be lazy. He listens, he is very cautious and doesn't just take off. I personally don't think they are abuse and I 100% agree with any child who is handicapped, actually diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or autistic being guided with one. It is a safety issue. But kids that just don't listen and parents that don't watch their kids (and I have seen a few) should step up and discipline properly.

[deleted account]

I think my whole issue with this subject is that it seems the people who use them are ok with those who don't. But the people who don't use them (a lot of them, not all) tend to slam the mothers who do. I mean, I used a harness with my son but never once did I look at another mother who WASN'T using one and think she was not doing everything in her power to keep her child safe. I just looked at her and smiled at what a cute kid she had. The judgements don't seem to go from the users to the non-users. The non-users though, in my experience, usually go with the whole "lazy parenting / copout" thing and I just don't get it.

Ok, for those of you who don't use one, would never use one and think it's lazy parenting to use one...a question. Did you use door knob covers? I did. Not every mother I know did. It's a safety device that isn't always needed in every situation. Wouldn't it be silly if someone who didn't use door knob covers thought I was lazy and copping out because I did use them? Why is the safety harness any different? It's a safety tool that some mothers don't find necessary and that's fine. Those of us who feel / felt safer using one, do it to protect our children and that's fine too. I just hate when the lazy comments get thrown in the mix because the lazy harness users are not the majority. Of course, just like with everything, some people will misuse them. But not one of the women I know who use(d) the harness on our children are lazy or copping out in any way, shape or form.

Nikkole - posted on 11/24/2010

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I dont think it is lazy parenting or a copout I mean sure if your kids 6 and is still on a leash thats WRONG! but for kids who run i would rather them be safe than squished like a bug by stupid people who drive WAY to fast in parking lots or have one of my kids snatched from me in an extremely busy shopping center! Now lazy would be me putting on those skate shoes and letting my son pull me around LMAO

Rachel - posted on 11/24/2010

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Dana, as I already mentioned, I am not giving you a percentage based on statistics. I am basing my opinion off of personal experience. If you don't like my opinion, ignore it.

[deleted account]

Rachel, you are most definitely entitled to your opinion but in a debate forum you're going to need to do better than that. I want to know how you came up with 90%? Do you have statistics from a study? Do you have some personal experience or did 90% just sound good in your head?

Sherri - posted on 11/24/2010

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My child did not wear a harness because he was ill behaved in the least actually he was my best behaved child out of my 3. I put him in a harness because I was terrified someone would walk off with him because he loved every person he ever saw and would have gladly walked off with a stranger/kidnapper. I wanted my beautiful amazing child alive to see another day simply because I also had the distraction of 2 other children I needed to watch. He got a little independence and I had the peace of mind knowing nobody was going to walk off with my precious little boy.

Rachel - posted on 11/24/2010

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Krista, I am happy to answer you. My son tried running away everywhere we went from about age 1-2.5 approx... He learned to walk at 9 months, so by one he was already very fast. He was also wayyyy too heavy for a sling and hated the stroller. So, I do understand other parent's frustration because I have been there. So, what I personally did was to set some ground rules. These were the basics:

• In dangerous places, like parking lots, he had to hold my hand, and he didn't have a choice. I just recently abandoned that rule, and my son is now 6 years old. Now he just has to walk next to me. And it wasn't just him holding my hand either, I was holding his back - tightly. So, if he tried to slip away I would already have a grip on him and it wouldn't be an option.

• In malls, stores, (safe places), etc... he was allowed to walk, but only if he stayed within a certain distance, maybe 10 feet or so. I'd warn him if he started to get to far, and tell him "if you go any farther away from me I will hold your hand". And every time he tried to run off, or refused to stay close I'd take away his privilege to walk on his own and I would hold his hand. If he wiggled and sqirmed and didn't want to hold my hand I'd hold his wrist, which he didn't like. I'd usually give him another chance after a while and a reminder of what was expected. Eventually it stuck.

This was not a quick fix, but in the long run he learned that running off didn't pay off. And he was perfectly safe while he was learning because I watched him very carefully and never let him get too far away before reigning him in. It wasn't easy, and sometimes not very pleasant, but I don't think it's impossible either. Like I mentioned, he is now six and he is very good about staying pretty close by, and he even likes holding my hand on occasion. : )

Mary - posted on 11/24/2010

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To those of you who think it is a "cop-out" or lazy parenting, I have to ask...do you strap your child into their stroller? Do you buckle them into the safety strap in shopping carts? If you do, I'm not sure I understand why. After all, you are such stellar, attentive parents that you need never worry about your child trying to stand in the cart or stroller, or climb out, right? You're so damned good that you will always just know when they are about to bolt out of that seat without warning, right? Or is it that your child is so well-trained that they would simply never even try to climb out of the stroller while you are trying to pay for your purchases?

I'm genuinely curious...see, I'm a baby (now toddler) wearer, so I don't strap my child down into a 5 point harness in a stroller like a prisoner. From your perspective of harnesses being "lazy", I can only assume that you find all types of safety tools objectionable. Restraining a kid in a seat on wheels seems almost archaic, and far more of a cop out than "leashing them" (at least their legs are free in a backpack harnesss), so I can only assume that a super parent like this would not utilize that barbaric tool. You need to share your secrets of success for raising the perfectly behaved toddler with the rest of us - please!

Rachel - posted on 11/24/2010

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Dana, it's my opinion. And that's what this site is for. I didn't say it was a statistic, I said "I think". And I am entitled to think whatever I like, just like you are.

Krista - posted on 11/24/2010

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And I have experienced a very willful "runner" also. He was a challenge, but eventually grew out of it.

So Rachel, how did you keep him safe WHILE you were dealing with him being a runner? Did you keep him in a sling or a stroller? Did you force him to hold your hand?

I guess I just have yet to hear a satisfactory response from a parent who taught their kid to stay by their side, telling us what measures they took to keep their child safe PRIOR to the child fully learning those lessons. I mean, we all know that learning is a process. Especially with kids -- sometimes it takes a long time and a few backslides in order for them to fully learn something. So while you're in the process of teaching them to stay close, how, pray tell, do you keep them safe?

[deleted account]

90% of the time? Where did you get those statistics or did you just pull them out of your ass? I suppose the 10% that use it properly just happen to all be in this thread. C'mon...

Rachel - posted on 11/24/2010

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Sorry, but I think it's a cop-out 90% of the time. I do think that there are specific circumstances where it might be the best option, if your child has special needs, or if you're somewhere like a fair, where you could easily lose your child... But I think that the majority of the time, with most children, there are better methods of teaching and keeping your kids to be safe and remain by your side. And I have experienced a very willful "runner" also. He was a challenge, but eventually grew out of it.

Amy - posted on 11/24/2010

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Like any tool, it depends on how it's used. No one should drag kids around. I do have a child backpack/leash, but we only use it when we go to days at the zoo where it will be super crowded [like special events]. Anyone could have the best behaved children in the world, but in a huge crowd they can grab your kid and disappear. I have also used this when going on walks by very busy roads with my 18 month old. I am pregnant and let's face it, not quick enough to stop him if he breaks from me at a haul out run for the road. I'd rather keep my kids with me and alive than worry about what others think. Now, I did this with my daughter all summer when she was about two years old and now four walks right with me and after that brief period, we never have to worry about her wandering off. She just kinda knows. It is not a necessity. I'm sure I'd use a wagon or some other tool to keep them safe on walks. If there is constant tension on the cord thing - then I don't think it's being used right. It's more of a guide and safety tool for kids than a restraint. At least for us.

Jaime - posted on 11/24/2010

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Me too Susanne! I'm one lazy mother! I get lots of mixed comments and stares from passers-by but as far as I'm concerned, my son is safe and we are both enjoying our time away from the house...to me that is victory and if that means I get the nasty stare-down from some other ignorant parent...so be it!

[deleted account]

Im definately a bad and lazy parent if it means my kids are safe and well. I dont suppose we are all lucky enough to have the perfect children that hold hands with their perfect mothers who have taught them so well. I just have naughty kids that love to run and explore and get distracted by the world around them. I guess i should just not leave the house with them just in case someone gets offended by my son wearing a backpack with a lead attached lol.

Johnny - posted on 11/23/2010

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Oh, and another thing. Do those of you who are opposed to leashes because you think that they are only for dogs put your child in a crib? You cage your kid like an animal? How cruel! Do you put them in diapers too? I mean, you can't even be bothered to get off your lazy ass and run them to the toilet to go to have a piss? Negligence! And I suppose you don't use high chairs either? You wouldn't want to strap down your child while they eat would you....?

Johnny - posted on 11/23/2010

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You know what really scares me... the people on this thread who clearly think that a lost child or a kidnapped child or a kid getting run over by a car is a better option than a leash. You, like myself, may not have a kid that bolts or only have 1 or 2 easily handled kids. Surprisingly, not everyone does, and therefore leashes are a GREAT safety option. They allow kids to walk independently and be controlled if safety becomes an issue. Perhaps you should think outside your little boxes before accusing other parents of laziness or bad parenting. Those who live in glass houses....

[deleted account]

My son has an old, real leash that we used to use for taking our cat to the vet. He 'makes' us clip it to his shirt so he can be a puppy. :)

Sherri - posted on 11/23/2010

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I used it on my youngest he LOVED it. He thought it was such a treat he would run to get his monkey. He didn't like the stroller and this gave him a little more freedom.

Nikkole - posted on 11/23/2010

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lol one time my son was on his leash in the mall and he got down on all 4s and started panting and barking lmao i laughed so hard everyone else looked at me like i was horrible! (he acts like a dog at home to :D)

Jaime - posted on 11/23/2010

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I'm pretty sure my son is a reincarnation of a dog...so what say you now?



Basically it's pure bullshit for anyone to hold the opinion that child harnesses/leashes/tethers/whateverthefuckyouwanttocallthem are directly associated with lazy parenting and furthermore that they somehow turns our children into pets.



What's the difference between a stroller and a harness? Oh, that's right...sweet fuck all! We belt our kids into strollers for their safety and we strap them into a harness for safety...one option means you can get your shopping done quicker and the other option means you're taking the scenic tour through the damn mall! Big effing deal!

Krista - posted on 11/23/2010

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No kidding. If all the world's children were treated at least as well as I treated my dog, the world would be a MUCH better place. That little frigger had it sweet!

[deleted account]

Did you not read any posts Brittany? The 'dog' analogy has already been dissected here and doesn't hold water. ;)

Krista - posted on 11/23/2010

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Um yes, Brittany. Because chasing after your kid as he suddenly jerks his hand out of yours and darts full-tilt towards traffic is SO much better than having them wear (GASP! The HORROR!) a backpack with a little handle attached to it.

Brie - posted on 11/23/2010

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I believe it is unnecessary and lazy parenting IMO! Keep track of you child. run after them, hold their hand, put them in a cart!!! that should be what is done.. Your children are people not pets!!!

Nikkole - posted on 11/23/2010

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My i have a son who will be 3 next month and a little girl who will be 5months when im out bymyself my son goes on his leash he loves to run and hide he thinks its a game and i love our leash i hear soo many kids being taken from there parents its scary to think that someone could do that! But i will use one with my daughter if needed to!

Sabrina - posted on 11/23/2010

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@ Krista E.:

When I did comment on the harness/leashes thats when I was 17ish I was never nasty about it, I mean, unless I saw (wich I have) seen a mother yank on it as if she was walking a dog who was trying to chase a squirl, I don't regret instances like that where I've steped in and said something ,and I DO hope that that mom felt horrible for treating her child like that.

Barb - posted on 11/23/2010

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rofl, fuck your hat?! i love it, that is going to be my new term for thanksgiving week!

Jaime - posted on 11/23/2010

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I think I'm having trouble getting my brain to understand just how a child harness is somehow connected to lazy parenting.

I mean if you think about it...I could be sitting at home, on the couch, eating chips and chocolate while my kid zones out in front of the t.v....OR, I can strap on his harness and take him for a walk to the park, where he can run around (harness free) and burn off some energy, then come home and have a nice balanced lunch followed by a nap (where I will likely begin my day's cleaning spree). I fail to see how a harness promotes lazy parenting. Why? because I'm not holding onto my son's hand? because his hand isn't being squished by my death grip in order to prevent him from running out into traffic when he sees a cool rock on the road, or spots a dog across the street and wants to go say hello? or is it because I let him have just a bit of independence, while establishing a boundary of space that he cannot surpass?

Well whatever someone's reasoning is for attributing my use of a child harness to lazy parenting...fuck your hat!

Terrill - posted on 11/23/2010

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Okay, I have to say I find it incredible that this topic needs to be debated! I have an 15 month old son who has absolutely NO concept of danger. We use his harness on an almost daily basis and are not ashamed in the least bit! Ethan is fiercely independent and without the harness, he would either run off to explore or be confined to his stroller for the entirety of our outing! I don't think it is fair for him NOT to have a harness as I would be restricting his excercise which he so desperately needs!

We go to the park quite often when the weather permits and I do not use his harness for these types of outing as I encourage him to run around and explore, but when we walk into town there is just too much going on, too many distractions and too many people around for him not to be secured. I also worry about the possibility of an abduction and feel for me, this alleviates my concerns.

Now to address the dog-leash reference. We put leashes on our dogs so that they DON'T run into traffic, why on earth would it be okay to say the dogs should be kept safe while we should take risks with our children! That is an inane argument! Now, there are ALWAYS people who will abuse these kinds of tools, but that could be said of anything! I know a woman who has 2 children and they are 4 and 2. She keeps them BOTH in a stroller CONSTANTLY, which means they very rarely get any execercise. Is this not wrong? The youngest is two and only JUST started walking!!!

I find it incredible that other mothers can be so judgemental! Parenting is extremely difficult under the best of conditions, should we not be supporting each other rather than judging every little thing that we deem inappropriate?

Let's love our children as much as we love our dogs eh?:)

Mary - posted on 11/23/2010

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Lyndsay, if I went by your rationale, I could argue that unless you had multiple children, using a stroller is lazy parenting...after all, is asking too much for a parent to carry their ONE child?

[deleted account]

Yes Melissa obviously with one child you've never had to push a pram and watch a toddler at the same time or struggled to chase a toddler when your nine months pregnant. Life with more than one kid is a lot different to life with one.

Krista - posted on 11/22/2010

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I can understand a single mom with like 4 kids under 5,

Dude, at that point SOMETHING has to be leashed, and it ain't the kid...

Barb - posted on 11/22/2010

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Candi, the story on huffington post said the mother was arrested for child abuse. Although in the comments to story someone did suggest that assumptions could be made from the video because there isn't any sound and that perhaps the kiddo was having a fun ride on his back while mom towed him around. Or it could be like my cats, completely humorless about a harness idea, and i have the scars to prove it. But once you get it on them they just fall over and play dead.

As far as the "you should be able to keep a hold of one child" I didn't. And i don't know if i fall in the "bad mommy" category but i've managed to raise my child to adulthood, have him graduate from high school with a 3.8 gpa, not even a speeding ticket on his record so he can go into the special security forces in the USMC in Dec. He is frugal with money, generous with his time and efforts, considerate and caring for those in need and hangs with a pretty good group of kids that all have clear career goals for their future.

But the funny thing is, the leash itself doesn't make you a good or bad parent, the common theme in all of this is: it's the parent that is good or bad.

[deleted account]

1 child or 10 children, I don't see that it makes a difference in who it's "ok" for. I have just one child and used it with him. Having only one child doesn't mean that the risks for being kidnapped or running into traffic are any less. Like Tina, I slept well every night, knowing my son was safe and sound at home, and not kidnapped or dead.

Tina - posted on 11/22/2010

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i think that when used properly they can be a wonderful thing and a life saver for a child.
I do not think that you should use an actual dog leash on your child. they have cute children ones. using on properly means not dragging child behind you. not having the leash where it can choke the child. also these are not excuses to not watch your child. i just think they are a good tool for extra protection. once i was condemned for telling someone i will use one on my kids (my only kid is barely over 1 so we have not needed it yet) and i simply said "I will lay down everynight knowing my kid is in her bed not kidnapped". we get involved in looking at clothes as you said. and as you experienced it only takes a second. I am very happy your son knew who to go to to find his mommy. My own mother was a single mom of four for a long time and now has 5 of her own and 3 step kids. so the child leashes came in wonderful hand for my sister and brother who always took off.
Ultimately i think that is a choice that is 100% up to the parents to decide. whether you say yes or no. i do not think that it is right to condemn another parent for their choices.

Lyndsay - posted on 11/22/2010

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I think they're a cop-out for lazy parents, mostly. I can understand a single mom with like 4 kids under 5, obviously that would be chaotic and I don't even know how you would go about keeping track of all of them... but it is not too much to ask a parent to watch their one child.

[deleted account]

Dana that scares the shit outta me! I was in the same mall the day Adam Walsh was abducted. It made a huge impression on me and I am terrified of the thought of never seeing my son again, not knowing if he's alive or dead or what may be happening to him. So if a "leash" keeps me and my kid (or any other mother and her kid) from going through that then I say WOOF FRIGGIN' WOOF.

[deleted account]

THIS is why they can be a great tool. This just popped up on my news feed on Facebook. This happened at my local mall. Scary

"PARENTS BE AWARE!!!! A lady witnessed a man w/ dakr brn hair clean shaven in early 40's attempt to abduct a 3yr old boy today in the Abby mall she made the parents aware and the guy took off. All this guy did was take the childs hand and keep walking! 5 more seconds and he woulda been out of the mall, Its a busy season, keep your kids CLOSE to you no matter what!!"

Jaime - posted on 11/22/2010

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That's a good point Krista. I've actually thought about that a lot since becoming a parent. The urge to comment on another person's parenting practices is sometimes overwhelming depending on the situation and the circumstances, but I'm much more aware now of just how absolutely naive I used to be about my ideas of parenthood. I won't lie and say that there aren't things about my friends' parenting techniques that drive me bonkers, but if their kids are safe, happy and healthy...who the hell am I to step in and say yay or nay? I don't think I've ever chastised a person for how they parent---oops, I lied...there was this one, horrid woman that kept squirting her hyperventilating son in the face with water until he was gasping and choking for air...but since the poor bugger couldn't breathe, I don't feel bad for yelling at his douchey mother! As for the varying parenting styles that I see daily...I'm a lot more knowledgeable about the fact that my way isn't the only way.

Krista - posted on 11/22/2010

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@Sabrina: I completly used to be againts them and used to say something to parents who I'd see using it on ONE child.

Kind of a shame that you can't go back and apologize to those parents, knowing what you know now. You probably made those mothers feel really bad.

I guess I just don't understand why anybody would take it upon themselves to verbally comment upon someone else's parenting practices, if the kid is not being hurt in any way.

[deleted account]

I think if used correctly they are a vital safety device. I have some for when Logan starts walking which will be very soon and we plan to use them at any given oppurtunity! I love to see toddlers getting some exercise rather than being stuck in a buggy all the time and it gives me the feeling that he will be safe and be able to have a bit of freedom rather than me demanding to hold his hands at most times. My mam used them on my sister and I and I have one vivid memory of getting lost in a shop because she let me off the reins and I decided to play hide and seek!

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