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Fox attack! Really?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Alan H
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#41 Post by Alan H » June 15th, 2010, 11:02 am

Latest post of the previous page:

getreal wrote:AFAIK there has NEVER been a confirmed case of a fox attacking a human in the UK (please let me know if anyone knows different)
From the BBC (so it must be true!):

Baby 'attacked by fox'
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Paolo
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#42 Post by Paolo » June 15th, 2010, 11:04 am

getreal wrote:I really think all this is hysterical chatter. AFAIK there has NEVER been a confirmed case of a fox attacking a human in the UK (please let me know if anyone knows different)

We may as well say that badgers, wildcats, polecats, otters pose a threat to infants. There are all preditors with big sharp teeth who can bite.

Statistics on dog attacks make worrying reading.
Hysterical? Hardly. I am a professional biologist and I'm providing information based on 15 years of training and experience. I've observed fox behaviour in urban and rural environments; I've examined hundreds of fox faeces under the microscope - I have a pretty good idea about fox behaviour and diet. I also have personal experience of being bitten by a fox without provocation – and if I was less robust it would have been scary and I might have reported it. As it is I treated it the same as I would a cat scratch and thus cleaned it and then ignored it. Much the same as most people would, unless they were frail enough to suffer serious harm, like an 88 year old woman http://news.scotsman.com/foxes/Pensione ... 2559765.jp or a 14 week old baby http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/arti ... ng-baby.do

How does someone confirm a fox attack without CCTV coverage in their home or back garden, which is where these attacks seem to happen -at least without killing or trapping the animal at the time? I would say that most people know what a fox looks like and if it was a dog I expect that they would know it was a dog.

Badgers, wildcats, polecats and otters do all pose a threat to infants (of injury more than death), but urban foxes pose a far greater risk because they are habituated to humans and they live in close proximity to humans. The other species mentioned have as little to do with humans as possible, so they pose a very small risk. Foxes kill lambs weighing up to 10kg and the average weight of a 9 month old child is less than 10kg, so in terms of prey size for a fox one of the twins would be well within the upper size range. A 9kg baby would also be far easier to overpower than a 10kg lamb, since human offspring are so altricial. Why anyone has a problem considering how a fox would consider a small baby as food is simply beyond me. Adult humans are perceived as a threat by foxes, but babies are just little parcels of meat that adults protect. If a fox would dare to steal food from inside a person’s house (which they do) there is no reason to expect them not to attempt to carry off a baby.

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#43 Post by Nick » June 15th, 2010, 11:39 am

Paolo wrote:I've examined hundreds of fox faeces under the microscope - I have a pretty good idea about fox behaviour and diet.
Did you find any evidence of a diet of human...? A plastic dummy, say? That would be pretty indigestible and pass straight through, wouldn't it...? :wink:

I think any original raised eye-brow I may have been guilty of was because fox attacks do not seem to have been reported before. And I'm a little surprised there is no folk-lore tradition either. I'd have thought foxes would have scavenged through historical settlements to, rather than waiting till the 20th century. But everything you say seems very logical, so I'm happy to adjust my initial position. And I'm also sure we'd have heard if the original event had in fact been caused by a dog.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#44 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » June 15th, 2010, 12:05 pm

Dave B wrote:I wonder whether the people in the house might have encouraged foxes, left food for them so that their daughters could watch the "lovely little fox" through the window? This would have made it more bold in their territory.
Oh, good grief. If they're not being accused of making things up, or of not being able to tell the difference between a fox and a ginger tom, or of being negligent in leaving their door open, then they're being accused (albeit speculatively) of feeding the foxes. Someone said something earlier about the blame culture. Well, it's a culture that's flourishing in this particular thread! :laughter:
getreal wrote:AFAIK there has NEVER been a confirmed case of a fox attacking a human in the UK (please let me know if anyone knows different) ...

Statistics on dog attacks make worrying reading.
This is still a fair point, even if other examples of fox attacks can be found. Surely it is reasonable to say that unprovoked fox attacks on human are rare, especially compared to unprovoked dog attacks on humans. I don't think it's something that the parents of the twins should have been expected to predict. Boris Johnson's call for a fox cull is an overreaction. A cull on urban foxes would be expensive, difficult and in the long term ineffective, but in any case this attack should not be a justification for it. Of all the risks to children's health and life, foxes come far down the list. The reason that the attack on these twins was such a big news item was, of course, precisely because it's rare. Children being injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions or accidents in the home is not news, precisely because thousands of children are killed and injured by such accidents each year. Rather than showering blame on a couple of people from Hackney, let's spread it around a little. Let's splash some of it onto anyone who has ever left a hot cup of tea or coffee within reach of a toddler. Or allowed an eight-year-old to walk unrestrained along a pavement beside a public road, without having confirmed that he or she has a thorough understanding of road safety. Or fed a five-year-old raw carrot, or sausage, or grapes (all foods associated with risk of choking). Let's disapprove of any parent who has failed to have stair gates fitted at the top and bottom of staircases, or to have child safety locks fitted on windows and doors and cupboard doors, and inserts in all the electric sockets. And let's frown and tut and shake our heads at anyone with young children who fills a bath by running the hot water before the cold.

Surely we all behave sometimes in ways that carry a risk of harming not only ourselves but also the children in our care. It may be a very, very small risk, but if we're very unlucky we'll only have ourselves to blame. And the smaller the risk, it seems, the more others will blame us too.

Emma

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Paolo
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#45 Post by Paolo » June 15th, 2010, 12:52 pm

Sensible as ever Emma.

I would still say that encouraging foxes to become habituated by feeding them and tolerating them near our homes is a bad idea though. It's not just children, it's pets and property that can be damaged. As you say, culling foxes won't do much good (there will just be more movement of foxes between vacated territories), what we need to do is to not encourage them to hang around where they can cause problems. Instead of putting out some scraps for the fox in the back garden, make sure your bin is secure and there are no scraps available. It's not a tall order and it will probably reduce the number of rats and mice in the area as well.

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#46 Post by Marian » June 15th, 2010, 12:59 pm

Emma, I hear what you are saying about a blame culture but I still stick with my original stance that blame has a place only in so far as to learn a lesson from what has transpired. It's about learning to take responsibility which so often people want to shy away from, imo.
Perhaps also, it comes from things like this happening over here. Slightly different circumstance but you get the picture in terms of the woman being charged. I completely agree with the charges although I'd have gone further and had her mother charged with negligence as well since they both went out for a smoke and left the baby.

But I understand that I'm probably taking things too far. I just get mad/upset when dependents are killed out of neglect etc. That baby didn't have a chance of defending itself. I think if I make a bad decision, then I should be held accountable. If I run over my toddler by backing over him/her with my car, I am negligent. It's not merely a terrible stroke of bad luck.

Maybe it was just plain stupidity or ignorance but the laws of the land don't take that into consideration when the charges are laid. Should we just get rid of negligence laws then if anything goes?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#47 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » June 15th, 2010, 1:26 pm

I do agree, Paolo, that feeding foxes is not sensible. I suspect, though, that food littering is an even bigger problem than deliberate feeding or having dustbins or compost bins that aren't secure. Since having a dog, I've been amazed at and frustrated by the amount of discarded food there is lying around in the streets. If it weren't for the foxes, there'd probably be a lot more!

I have foxes living on the other side of the brick wall at the bottom of my garden, in the shelter of a clump of lilac bushes. I can see the shallow holes they've dug. They've dug holes in my garden too, and I keep filling them up, and they keep digging them. The people who live in that house on the other side of the wall are frail and elderly, and I know that they haven't ever fed the foxes, and I'm pretty certain that none of my other immediate neighbours have either. But the foxes don't need any encouragement. They don't need food on site; they're just using the place as a base. If I'm to stop tolerating them near my home, what should I do? I know plenty of people who have made a huge effort to get rid of foxes, and in the long term it hasn't worked. Admittedly, there are some things I could do. I could stop feeding the birds. (I don't scatter bird food on the ground, but I know that seeds fall from hanging feeders.) I could make sure that I pick up all fallen apples and other fruit. But I doubt very much that this would make much of a difference. So, for me, toleration of foxes seems the best option. I'd be perfectly happy to stop tolerating people who drop food in the streets, but unfortunately I've never caught anyone doing it.

Emma

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#48 Post by Paolo » June 15th, 2010, 1:54 pm

I too have a foxes in the back garden and I certainly don't try to encourage them. I have boarded up holes in fences that they used to use as convenient walkthroughs and when they started coming up to the back door I started sprinkling a cat and dog repellent called "Get off!" at the house end of the garden. It seems to have been effective and I have not seen any signs of the fox close to the house since, except on one occasion a week or two ago when one chased the neighbour's cat up the fence next to my kitchen window. The cat went over the fence and the boarded up hole that the fox would have once run straight through served its purpose admirably.

I agree about the food waste problem and I don't think that it is an easy one to solve, but I really don't mind the presence of foxes per se, I just think that we need to make sure we draw a recognisable line between our world and theirs to help prevent the kind of problems that arise when wild animals become habituated to humans.

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#49 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » June 15th, 2010, 1:57 pm

Marian wrote:Emma, I hear what you are saying about a blame culture but I still stick with my original stance that blame has a place only in so far as to learn a lesson from what has transpired.
I think it's unnecessary, though. We can learn lessons without the blame. And I have a sneaking suspicion that they might be more effective that way.
Marian wrote:Perhaps also, it comes from things like this happening over here. Slightly different circumstance but you get the picture in terms of the woman being charged. I completely agree with the charges although I'd have gone further and had her mother charged with negligence as well since they both went out for a smoke and left the baby.
Criminal negligence maybe, but manslaughter? Seems unnecessarily harsh to me.
Marian wrote:But I understand that I'm probably taking things too far. I just get mad/upset when dependents are killed out of neglect etc. That baby didn't have a chance of defending itself. I think if I make a bad decision, then I should be held accountable. If I run over my toddler by backing over him/her with my car, I am negligent. It's not merely a terrible stroke of bad luck.
Yes, you would be negligent, but it would also be a terrible stroke of bad luck. When things go wrong, then usually it takes a combination of things: taking risks (sometimes very small risks), and bad luck. Because we take small risks all the time without things going wrong, we get complacent, and we don't recognise that the more often we take a particular small risk the greater the chance of things going wrong. I do it, I know, and I studied probability theory at degree level, so it's hardly surprising that people with a poor grasp of such things do it. But we need to look at the whole risk thing sensibly. It is impossible to eliminate all risk. If we attempted it, it would probably have a severe impact on our quality of life and that of our children. So we do have to find some reasonable balance. It doesn't strike me as an easy thing to do. I suspect that I'd have found it very difficult if I'd had children.
Marian wrote:Maybe it was just plain stupidity or ignorance but the laws of the land don't take that into consideration when the charges are laid. Should we just get rid of negligence laws then if anything goes?
No, of course not. It isn't a matter of anything goes. But we do need to examine the level of risk, as well as the perceived risk. As I understand it, when assessing negligence, the courts consider whether a reasonable person would have foreseen the danger of the action. I think a reasonable person would think it prudent not to leave a baby unsupervised with a dog, any dog. I don't think a reasonable person would expect a fox to enter a house through an open door, climb the stairs, jump into a cot and attack a sleeping child. At least, not before this case. Now, perhaps, that fictional reasonable person might take that remote possibility into account.

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#50 Post by Marian » June 15th, 2010, 5:57 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
I think it's unnecessary, though. We can learn lessons without the blame. And I have a sneaking suspicion that they might be more effective that way. [/quote] I wish I could share your sentiment but from my perspective, I see many people trying to get away with as much as possible and shift responsibility to others. Maybe the lessons don't get learned at all no matter what, I don't know, but I think if people can shirk the blame, they will. Look at politicians; they make a living from doing that.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Criminal negligence maybe, but manslaughter? Seems unnecessarily harsh to me.
Here is the English equivalent to the charges laid. As you'll see, negligence is part of the equation. Not harsh as followed by law:

Under English law, where a person causes death through extreme carelessness or incompetence, gross negligence is required. While the specifics of negligence may vary from one jurisdiction to another, it is generally defined as failure to exercise a reasonable level of precaution given the circumstances and so may include both acts and omissions... In R v Bateman 1925 Cr. App R. 8 the Court of Criminal Appeal held that gross negligence manslaughter involved the following elements:

1. the defendant owed a duty to the deceased to take care;
2. the defendant breached this duty;
3. the breach caused the death of the deceased; and
4. the defendant's negligence was gross, that is, it showed such a disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime and deserve punishment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manslaught ... nslaughter
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Yes, you would be negligent, but it would also be a terrible stroke of bad luck. When things go wrong, then usually it takes a combination of things: taking risks (sometimes very small risks), and bad luck. Because we take small risks all the time without things going wrong, we get complacent,...
No one is advocating eliminating all risk. Being alive is a risk; anything can happen at any time but in the example of the toddler and the car. It's the parent's job to make sure they know where the toddler is at all times and what they are doing, especially in the driveway/near the road. It's not bad luck to have run the kid over. It's neglect of duty. Simple.
Bad luck is walking to the bus stop and getting hit by a bolt of lightening on a sunny day. Didn't see that coming. But leaving your toddler outside unattended is another kettle of fish.

I can't come anywhere near your level in terms of understanding probability but I do know about danger and how little kids can get themselves into a whole heap of trouble and that a great many parents don't do a very good job of parenting because they are far too complacent. I say if you can't do the job, don't have kids and if you have them, do a smashing good job of it. If you want people to have high standards, then expect them to live up to that. The bar shouldn't be lowered because many people are too complacent. Of course, ain't no-one gonna follow my lead but I can still have an opinion. :D

I'd just like to add that I think complacency is a dangerous thing and not just in parenting. Complacency is often what allows human rights violations,including honor crimes, war-time atrocities etc to continue far too long.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote: I don't think a reasonable person would expect a fox to enter a house through an open door, climb the stairs, jump into a cot and attack a sleeping child. At least, not before this case.
Is this actually a court case or just a news article? Haven't heard anything about it over here.
I have to disagree. Most animals are clever enough to get to food. but they don't say to themselves, 'gee, there's an open door where I might find food. Oh but wait, that belongs to Mrs and Mr Human, I'd better stay clear' unless that fox wasn't acclimatized to people. A fox is a wild animal and as such will do whatever it takes to feed itself and its young. If they are rampant in the neighborhood, why not take necessary precautions? That's the job of a parent, is it not?
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#51 Post by Dave B » June 15th, 2010, 7:06 pm

Paolo, I think London Zoo used to sell packets of dried lion and tiger dung for sprinkling round gardens. Wonder if they are still in the market?
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Paolo
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#52 Post by Paolo » June 15th, 2010, 7:13 pm

Marian wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote: I don't think a reasonable person would expect a fox to enter a house through an open door, climb the stairs, jump into a cot and attack a sleeping child. At least, not before this case.
Is this actually a court case or just a news article? Haven't heard anything about it over here.
I have to disagree. Most animals are clever enough to get to food. but they don't say to themselves, 'gee, there's an open door where I might find food. Oh but wait, that belongs to Mrs and Mr Human, I'd better stay clear' unless that fox wasn't acclimatized to people. A fox is a wild animal and as such will do whatever it takes to feed itself and its young. If they are rampant in the neighborhood, why not take necessary precautions? That's the job of a parent, is it not?
To be fair Marian, although I agree that we should expect foxes to pose a risk to young infants, the rarity of foxes entering houses and attacking children means that people simply don't even consider the likelihood of it happening. Most human behaviour is informed by experience (our own or other people's) so it is hard to predict unexpected and rare events - and when such events happen it is usually caused by the unpredictable combination of unusual factors (if that wasn't the case then they would occur more often). Therefore there is an element of stochasticity involved and it can be considered bad luck.

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#53 Post by Nick » June 15th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Dave B wrote:Paolo, I think London Zoo used to sell packets of dried lion and tiger dung for sprinkling round gardens. Wonder if they are still in the market?
Dried lion? What, just add water and stand well back? :wink:

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#54 Post by Paolo » June 15th, 2010, 7:17 pm

Dave B wrote:Paolo, I think London Zoo used to sell packets of dried lion and tiger dung for sprinkling round gardens. Wonder if they are still in the market?
Maybe, but this "Get off [my garden]" stuff seemed to work fine for me: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Get-Off-Garden- ... B000LS57O0

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#55 Post by Nick » June 15th, 2010, 7:24 pm

My folks have trouble with the cats attacking the ground feeding birds round the bird-table. Grrr! They also have trouble with badgers digging holes in the lawn, deer nibbling the buds off the roses, and rabbits eating ..well..just about everything.

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#56 Post by Marian » June 16th, 2010, 12:29 am

Paolo wrote: To be fair Marian, although I agree that we should expect foxes to pose a risk to young infants, the rarity of foxes entering houses and attacking children means that people simply don't even consider the likelihood of it happening. Most human behaviour is informed by experience (our own or other people's) so it is hard to predict unexpected and rare events - and when such events happen it is usually caused by the unpredictable combination of unusual factors (if that wasn't the case then they would occur more often). Therefore there is an element of stochasticity involved and it can be considered bad luck.
Fair enough. Yes, I can see what you are saying about the rarity issue now. Oh and thanks for the new word of the day: stochasticity. I'd never heard that one before. Cool!
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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#57 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » June 16th, 2010, 3:30 pm

Marian wrote:... from my perspective, I see many people trying to get away with as much as possible and shift responsibility to others. Maybe the lessons don't get learned at all no matter what, I don't know, but I think if people can shirk the blame, they will. Look at politicians; they make a living from doing that.
Yes, but I think this is a consequence of focusing too much on finding someone to blame and, especially, on finding someone to punish. When people are frightened of punishment, they become defensive; they try to shirk blame publicly, even if they accept it privately. If we tried to be more forgiving of people's errors and lapses of judgement, and did not punish them harshly, then maybe they would be more willing to admit fault and to apologise. I don't think that would reduce the chances of lessons getting learned.
Marian wrote:Under English law, where a person causes death through extreme carelessness or incompetence, gross negligence is required ...
Ah, sorry. I remember now. This cropped up before in another thread. I'm still not convinced that the charge is appropriate, but I suppose the more important thing is the sentence. I don't know all the facts, but on the face of it we have a 17-year-old woman who leaves her three-week baby strapped in a car seat on the kitchen floor while she goes into the garden a few feet away, when there are two dogs (not her own dogs) loose in the apartment, dogs that had not previously shown any signs of aggression, resulting in the baby being attacked and killed. I don't think that 17-year-old should be sent to prison. Yes, she should have understood the risk, and so should the 37-year-old grandmother, but it seems they did not. I think the owners of the dogs had some responsibility here, too. But in any case I don't think justice would be served by incarcerating the young, grieving mother. And I don't think that putting her in prison would reduce the chances of the same thing happening to another child.
Marian wrote:No one is advocating eliminating all risk. Being alive is a risk; anything can happen at any time but in the example of the toddler and the car. It's the parent's job to make sure they know where the toddler is at all times and what they are doing, especially in the driveway/near the road. It's not bad luck to have run the kid over. It's neglect of duty. Simple.
Bad luck is walking to the bus stop and getting hit by a bolt of lightening on a sunny day. Didn't see that coming. But leaving your toddler outside unattended is another kettle of fish.
It may be another kettle of fish, but it's not simple. Getting hit by lightning on a sunny day is pure bad luck, agreed. But if you do something that carries a risk (rather than a certainty) of something bad happening, and something bad happens, then luck is always involved. The question of gross negligence or neglect of duty only normally arises if something bad happens. If there is only a small risk of something bad happening, then obviously most of the time nothing bad will happen. The difference in the two situations [---][/---] something bad happening and nothing bad happening [---][/---] is not about degrees of negligence or duty; it's about luck. It's about things that are outside your control. People all over the world leave their babies unsupervised for short periods and nothing bad happens to them. They may only do it rarely, out of absent-mindedness, when they're very tired or unwell, or it may be habitual. A single, brief and unusual moment of thoughtlessness is not as bad as habitual thoughtlessness, in that it's not as risky. So if someone accidentally runs over her child because, on this one and only occasion, she failed to check where the child was, perhaps because she had something else on her mind that was worrying or upsetting her, when normally she was very careful, then I would say that she was very unlucky. That doesn't mean that she's not at fault. She is at fault. But she's also unlucky that on this one occasion when she was distracted it so happened that whoever else was supposed to be supervising her child was also distracted, and didn't notice that the child had wandered off, and it so happened that the child's wandering led him to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lots of bad luck there.

But there's another layer of complexity, in my view. In the developed world, children of people who are poor, poorly educated, live in deprived areas, etc., are more likely to be injured or die in accidents than children of better off and better educated people. That's not because poorer people are, on average, more reprehensible than richer people. It's not because they love their children less, or that there's something in their character that makes them less fit to be parents. It could be because they have a poorer understanding of the risks involved in caring for a young child, because poorer parents are more likely to be younger and less well educated and experienced than richer parents. Or it could be because they have other risks in their lives that wealthier people don't usually have to worry about, risks that they have to take into account, and perhaps also because, as a consequence of those other risks, they are more likely to have bad things happening to them, problems liable to distract them from their parenting duties, however much they might want to be good parents. It could also be because they are less likely to be able to afford risk-reducing strategies like stair gates and cupboard locks. Whatever it is, such people are, in some respects, unlucky. As are people who have physical or mental disabilities or illnesses, or who have little support from family or friends, or who are simply not very bright. I'm listing these things not as reasons why people shouldn't take responsibility for their actions, but simply as risk factors that we, as members of a society, have to acknowledge. Living in a society where some people are a lot poorer than others carries extra risks. If we're prepared to accept those risks and do nothing to reduce them then we have to face the consequences, and perhaps even shoulder some of the blame.
Marian wrote:I can't come anywhere near your level in terms of understanding probability but I do know about danger and how little kids can get themselves into a whole heap of trouble and that a great many parents don't do a very good job of parenting because they are far too complacent. I say if you can't do the job, don't have kids and if you have them, do a smashing good job of it. If you want people to have high standards, then expect them to live up to that.
How? What should we do? Do we just keep prosecuting parents who make serious mistakes, and hope that that serves as a deterrent to others and makes them better parents? And what kind of mistakes are we concerned about? Failure to supervise a child properly might be an obvious one, but what about things like feeding your child a nutritionally inadequate diet? Smoking in front of your child? Failure to encourage your child to be physically active? Surely expecting people to live up to high standards is bound to lead to disappointment. Surely the emphasis should be on helping people to raise their standards, and ensuring that they have the resources to do so.
Marian wrote:The bar shouldn't be lowered because many people are too complacent. Of course, ain't no-one gonna follow my lead but I can still have an opinion. :D
You certainly can. :D Yes, complacency is a problem. It's a problem on an individual level, with people assuming that because nothing bad has happened yet then nothing bad will happen in the future. But it's also a problem on a societal level. (And, for that matter, on a planetary level, but that's another topic!)

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#58 Post by Marian » June 18th, 2010, 3:10 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: When people are frightened of punishment, they become defensive; they try to shirk blame publicly, even if they accept it privately. If we tried to be more forgiving of people's errors and lapses of judgement, and did not punish them harshly, then maybe they would be more willing to admit fault and to apologise. I don't think that would reduce the chances of lessons getting learned.
It's possible that some people are frightened because punishment might be harsh and that by changing the approach, they'd apologize sincerely. It's also possible that the dog-eat-dog world so rampant here (and more so in the US) has carved a certain cynicism in my 'psyche' and that we're experiencing the world from different cultural perspectives. But I don't see people who are avoiding blame as being frightened so much as just hoping their re-direction works in an effort to avoid consequences. Not out of fear but merely out of not wanting to deal with the repercussions of their own actions.

Here is a poor example but it happened tonight at the tennis courts and I can remember that far back :)
An adult male is playing a doubles match. His partner isn't very good and they lose points. As the man walks toward Jr and myself, the literally throws the racket in our general direction in anger. The racket bounces several times and finally stops not too far from my feet. I pipe up and say, 'hey, we didn't do anything”. His response: ' I was throwing at my bag'.
No apology which would have been the appropriate thing to do. He surely wasn't afraid of me. Please, I'm hardly intimidating. In fact, he would have said nothing if I didn't address him. And I think if he were truly afraid of punishment, he wouldn't have thrown the racket in the first place. Am I saying this guy ought to be prosecuted. No, he didn't hurt anyone but I did feel somewhat intimidated by the level of anger he expressed about a tennis match.

I think we'd also need to define lapses in judgement/errors. I don't see someone who committed 1st degree murder as someone who should just be patted on the head and sent off with a mere shaking of our heads and lamenting about what a sad childhood he must have had. He'd laugh himself right out of the courthouse. Same thing with parents who deliberately cause harm to their kids.
I'm not necessarily saying that a parent who inadvertently caused the death of their child should be locked up but it depends on the situation.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote: And I don't think that putting her in prison would reduce the chances of the same thing happening to another child.
Yes and no. It might be just that much harder to get pregnant while in prison so that saves us from having to deal with the potential she might have another lapse in judgement. On the other hand, she may become hardened by being in prison rather than focus on how things could have been different. At any rate, I'm not saying she's even end up in prison. I see her sentence as being community service, which may indeed by the most appropriate sentence for her. Hard to say without further info.

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: But if you do something that carries a risk (rather than a certainty) of something bad happening, and something bad happens, then luck is always involved. The question of gross negligence or neglect of duty only normally arises if something bad happens. If there is only a small risk of something bad happening, then obviously most of the time nothing bad will happen. The difference in the two situations [---][/---] something bad happening and nothing bad happening [---][/---] is not about degrees of negligence or duty; it's about luck. It's about things that are outside your control.
But leaving your child unattended is not outside your control. Don't get me wrong, I see what you are saying about luck. Yes, luck (or lack thereof) plays a part and of course there are things out of one's control but isn't the job of a parent to pay attention to those things that can be controlled and minimize the risk? Isn't it too easy to say, 'Oh what a stroke of bad luck I've been having' and thereby serve to minimize one's one own duties/responsibilities/fault?

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: In the developed world, children of people who are poor, poorly educated, live in deprived areas, etc., are more likely to be injured or die in accidents than children of better off and better educated people... It could be because they have a poorer understanding of the risks involved in caring for a young child, because poorer parents are more likely to be younger and less well educated and experienced than richer parents.
Could you please provide me with some stats on this? I'd be really interested in learning more because I don't see things the same way. I don't think either poor or rich parents necessarily understand the risks of caring for children because it doesn't have anything to do with how much money is in one's bank account. It has more to do with common sense and critical thinking, imo.
Not to mention that a great number of the wealthy hire nannies so they aren't really directly parenting anyway. I'd think that the nannies would be more inclined to keep the kid safe not just because they like kids but for some job security.

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: ...they are more likely to have bad things happening to them, problems liable to distract them from their parenting duties, however much they might want to be good parents. It could also be because they are less likely to be able to afford risk-reducing strategies like stair gates and cupboard locks.
You may be right but I was thinking that the parents who run over their children with the car have to actually own a car and a house with a driveway so that may preclude the poor. Sure, there are distractions in everyone's life as a parent and yes, bad luck does play a part but I still think we ought to be more proactive in teaching prospective parents about how they can minimize the risks.
Most people have elastic bands that can substitute for cupboard locks. ;)
Emma Woolgatherer wrote: As are people who have physical or mental disabilities or illnesses, or who have little support from family or friends, or who are simply not very bright. I'm listing these things not as reasons why people shouldn't take responsibility for their actions, but simply as risk factors that we, as members of a society, have to acknowledge. Living in a society where some people are a lot poorer than others carries extra risks. If we're prepared to accept those risks and do nothing to reduce them then we have to face the consequences, and perhaps even shoulder some of the blame.
I think there's a big difference between someone with say developmental disabilities who may not understand the consequences of their actions and a 17 year old who is fully capable of either knowing what the issues might be and/or learning quickly if taught. Curtis Jr is delayed and yet he understands cause and effect. Why? Because I've taught him. Delayed or mentally ill or isolated people are not necessarily stupid.
Living in a society where people don't think or don't think critically is more riskier than being poor and the consequences are far more severe, imo.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:How? What should we do? Do we just keep prosecuting parents who make serious mistakes, and hope that that serves as a deterrent to others and makes them better parents?
Yeah, expecting people to live up to high standards has certainly often been a disappointment but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. And we should give them the resources to make it happen.
One way of helping the parenting situation is mandatory licencing or training. We aren't allowed to drive a car without one, isn't the future important enough to make sure we have some kind of standard? Of course, I understand that children are often seen as the property of their parents so this idea won't be too popular. Nor will the extra effort required make some people happy. What would be really happy-making is if people just naturally saw the benefit of parental training and thankfully some do.
I'd be concerned about any “mistakes” that could potentially harm the dependent child. Ie. Not feeding the baby or giving them a GFCF diet without medical necessity and supervision, smoking could be another depending on the situation etc. I'm not saying we ought to prosecute parents who do some of these things but if we are going to say that ignorance is ok as an excuse to not take care, then I think training is essential.

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: You certainly can. :D Yes, complacency is a problem. It's a problem on an individual level, with people assuming that because nothing bad has happened yet then nothing bad will happen in the future. But it's also a problem on a societal level. (And, for that matter, on a planetary level, but that's another topic!) Emma
[/quote] Agreed :)
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#59 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » June 18th, 2010, 2:29 pm

Marian wrote:[I don't see people who are avoiding blame as being frightened so much as just hoping their re-direction works in an effort to avoid consequences. Not out of fear but merely out of not wanting to deal with the repercussions of their own actions.

Here is a poor example but it happened tonight at the tennis courts and I can remember that far back ...
It's not a poor example; it's a good example. You're right: the lack of apology there has nothing to do with fear. At least, not fear in the usual sense. Fear of losing face, perhaps, especially in front of the other man or men he'd been playing tennis with. It's possible that the man knew that what he did could have hurt you, but didn't want to admit it because that would have been a humiliating show of weakness, on top of his humiliating defeat. Or it could have been that he simply didn't have the imagination to think about what might have happened. It certainly doesn't seem that he had been brought up to be a good loser, or to apologise to people for doing potentially harmful as well as actually harmful things. (Hmmm. I wonder whether he'd been in the Scouts ... :) )

But I wasn't suggesting that everyone who ever does anything harmful or potentially harmful is frightened of punishment, or that fear of punishment is the sole cause of reluctance to apologise and admit error. Obviously there's more to it than that. In certain situations, though, I think it's a significant factor.
Marian wrote:I think we'd also need to define lapses in judgement/errors. I don't see someone who committed 1st degree murder as someone who should just be patted on the head and sent off with a mere shaking of our heads and lamenting about what a sad childhood he must have had. He'd laugh himself right out of the courthouse. Same thing with parents who deliberately cause harm to their kids.
I'm not necessarily saying that a parent who inadvertently caused the death of their child should be locked up but it depends on the situation.
OK, we're pretty much in agreement. Except that I would like to see a general moving away from custodial sentences, even for more serious crimes. I don't envisage it in the near future, but one day, I hope, it might be possible.
Marian wrote:Yes, luck (or lack thereof) plays a part and of course there are things out of one's control but isn't the job of a parent to pay attention to those things that can be controlled and minimize the risk? Isn't it too easy to say, 'Oh what a stroke of bad luck I've been having' and thereby serve to minimize one's one own duties/responsibilities/fault?
I do agree that individuals should accept responsibility for things going wrong as a consequence of their actions, even if they did not foresee those consequences. To me, that seems the "natural" thing to do. When someone else is blaming him- or herself for something going wrong, it also seems the natural thing to do to comfort him or her by focusing on that element of bad luck. But if someone is trying to shift blame entirely onto someone else or onto bad luck, then it is also natural to want to redirect the focus onto that person's own behaviour. I understand that. I do wonder, though, whether some people who have genuinely had a lot more than their fair share of bad luck, or who have been too much on the receiving end of other people's bad behaviour, might sometimes lose their perspective, and be tempted to see all negative events as being beyond their control. Perhaps that's a natural reaction too. I do think we need to try to understand why some people behave in this responsibility-avoiding way.
Marian wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote: In the developed world, children of people who are poor, poorly educated, live in deprived areas, etc., are more likely to be injured or die in accidents than children of better off and better educated people...
Could you please provide me with some stats on this? I'd be really interested in learning more because I don't see things the same way.
I confess I was extrapolating here from the UK, but if it's true in the UK I suspect that it is true in other countries with similar levels of wealth and inequality. See, for example, this BBC news item from 2007:
Two million children a year visit A&E because they have been hurt in an accident, the Audit Commission said ... The report, produced with the Healthcare Commission, found "shocking" inequalities in rates of accidents in children from poor families. Injuries such as those caused by burns, falling down the stairs and poisoning are a leading cause of death and illness in those aged one to 14 years old. In recent years the number of deaths from accidents in children has fallen, according to the joint report. However, inequalities between the poorest and more affluent families are widening.

Children of parents who have never worked or have been unemployed for a long time had 13 times the risk of dying from an accident and were 37 times more likely to die as a result of exposure to smoke, fire or flames than children of parents who worked in managerial or professional jobs ...
The reference for that statistic is Edwards et al., "Deaths from Injury in Children and Employment Status in Family Analysis in Class-Specific Death Rates", British Medical Journal, Oct 2006.
Marian wrote:I don't think either poor or rich parents necessarily understand the risks of caring for children because it doesn't have anything to do with how much money is in one's bank account. It has more to do with common sense and critical thinking, imo.
Not to mention that a great number of the wealthy hire nannies so they aren't really directly parenting anyway. I'd think that the nannies would be more inclined to keep the kid safe not just because they like kids but for some job security.
My understanding is that there is a big gap between the very poor (e.g. long-term unemployed) and the rest, rather than between those who can't afford a nanny and those who can. But I'd agree that being able to afford (or having access to free) good-quality childcare is going to be a factor.
Marian wrote:I was thinking that the parents who run over their children with the car have to actually own a car and a house with a driveway so that may preclude the poor.
I don't think that running over one's own child with a car is a particularly common cause of death or injury to children, at least not in the UK. Burns, falling down stairs and poisoning are things that can affect children from rich and poor families alike. In any case, according to the Audit Commission/Health Commission report, "Better Safe Than Sorry", "In England, children in the 10 per cent most deprived wards are three times more likely to be hit by a car than children in the 10 per cent least deprived wards" (reference: Grayling et al, Streets Ahead: Safe and Liveable Streets for Children, Institute for Public Policy Research, 2002). So even if the poorest people are not more likely to run over their own children, they may be more likely to run over other people's, or more likely to fail to supervise or train their children to prevent them getting run over by other people.
Marian wrote:Sure, there are distractions in everyone's life as a parent and yes, bad luck does play a part but I still think we ought to be more proactive in teaching prospective parents about how they can minimize the risks.
According to a UK Department of Health spokesperson: "Every mother currently receives a copy of 'Birth to Five', a Department of Health produced guide which contains advice on protecting and teaching children about safety." It's a 192-page document. The section on "Reducing the risk of accidents" (which unfortunately doesn't appear until page 107) includes things like "Fit smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test the batteries every week" and "Fit a thermostatic mixing valve to your bath hot tap to control the temperature at which the water comes out, to stop your child being badly scalded" and "Fit fireguards to all fires and heaters" and "Fit carbon monoxide alarms wherever there is a flame-burning appliance (such as a gas boiler) or open fire" and "Fit safety gates to stop them climbing stairs and falling down them." It's possible that poorer parents who have managed to get that far will be turned off by such instructions to install expensive devices. It's also possible that a significant proportion of those parents are functionally illiterate and won't even have opened the booklet in the first place.
Marian wrote:Most people have elastic bands that can substitute for cupboard locks. ;)
That's exactly the sort of tip that would be useful to have in a safety booklet. Or to be passed on by a health visitor.
Marian wrote:I think there's a big difference between someone with say developmental disabilities who may not understand the consequences of their actions and a 17 year old who is fully capable of either knowing what the issues might be and/or learning quickly if taught. Curtis Jr is delayed and yet he understands cause and effect. Why? Because I've taught him. Delayed or mentally ill or isolated people are not necessarily stupid.
And I'm not suggesting that they are. I'm just suggesting that they're unlucky. But I think that people who have not had the benefit of good parenting themselves are also unlucky. Curtis Jr is lucky in at least one respect: he has you as a mother. The 17-year-old whose baby got mauled by the husky wasn't so lucky. She didn't choose her parents. But then again, neither did they.
Marian wrote:Living in a society where people don't think or don't think critically is more riskier than being poor and the consequences are far more severe, imo.
I think the two are related. I don't think the problem is poverty per se; it's being relatively poor in a relatively rich society. It's being one of the have-nots when you're surrounded by haves. It's being excluded from the kind of life that you see depicted every day on television. I agree that all of us, whatever our socio-economic status, could benefit from being able to think more critically, but when 1 in 5 British children are leaving primary school functionally illiterate and innumerate [---][/---] no, hang on, now it's 1 in 5 leaving secondary school (see this Telegraph article), but either way it's not surprising that we're not managing to teach children more complex thinking skills. I don't understand what's going wrong, but I don't think it's a simple matter of teacher quality or teaching methods (not using synthetic phonics, for instance).
Marian wrote:One way of helping the parenting situation is mandatory licencing or training. We aren't allowed to drive a car without one, isn't the future important enough to make sure we have some kind of standard? Of course, I understand that children are often seen as the property of their parents so this idea won't be too popular. Nor will the extra effort required make some people happy. What would be really happy-making is if people just naturally saw the benefit of parental training and thankfully some do.
I agree. I think we have a vicious circle to break, though: the good old Cycle of Deprivation. There are parents of small children who themselves have such low levels of comprehension, such poor listening and communication skills, that a standard parenting skills course would be of limited value. Such parents need tailor-made and continued one-to-one (or one-to-two) help. It would all be very expensive. And right now in the UK the government is going to be cutting back public services, when what we need to do is raise taxes and increase public services. :D
Marian wrote:I'd be concerned about any “mistakes” that could potentially harm the dependent child. Ie. Not feeding the baby or giving them a GFCF diet without medical necessity and supervision, smoking could be another depending on the situation etc. I'm not saying we ought to prosecute parents who do some of these things but if we are going to say that ignorance is ok as an excuse to not take care, then I think training is essential.
I don't think that we should say that ignorance is OK as an excuse not to take care. I think we should acknowledge that ignorance is widespread, and carelessness inevitable. And yes, that means training is essential. But I think the problem goes much deeper than that.

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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#60 Post by Marian » June 21st, 2010, 1:50 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: You're right: the lack of apology there has nothing to do with fear. At least, not fear in the usual sense. Fear of losing face, perhaps, especially in front of the other man or men he'd been playing tennis with. It's possible that the man knew that what he did could have hurt you, but didn't want to admit it because that would have been a humiliating show of weakness, on top of his humiliating defeat. Or it could have been that he simply didn't have the imagination to think about what might have happened. It certainly doesn't seem that he had been brought up to be a good loser, or to apologise to people for doing potentially harmful as well as actually harmful things. (Hmmm. I wonder whether he'd been in the Scouts ... :) )
Maybe in Scouts, he only listened to the parts about walking little old ladies across the street. He'd be lucky these days not to get hit over the head with a purse for his efforts :)
Here's what gets me though. Should we be concerned about his fear, in whatever form it takes, or about my safety? I think you are right that it could be any or all of the reasons you stated but ultimately it comes down to his complete self-absorption. He didn't think about me or Jr; he thought about himself and his temper tantrum. Irritating and very pervasive behaviour in our society. I think this annoys me because socially he is not left out even though his behaviour warrants some kind of consequence but Jr and I are often left out because we are different. (If someone could explain why this happens, I'd appreciate it btw)

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:But I wasn't suggesting that everyone who ever does anything harmful or potentially harmful is frightened of punishment, or that fear of punishment is the sole cause of reluctance to apologise and admit error. Obviously there's more to it than that. In certain situations, though, I think it's a significant factor.
Agreed. I guess the hard part is really distinguishing exactly which motivator is the predominant one. Although I still think that for many politicians wanting to avoid the aftermath of their own behaviour is a key factor but maybe I'm being unfair. :)

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:OK, we're pretty much in agreement. Except that I would like to see a general moving away from custodial sentences, even for more serious crimes. I don't envisage it in the near future, but one day, I hope, it might be possible.
I think moving away from custodial sentences is a good idea depending, of course, on the nature of the crime and the perpetrator. Especially in the US where there are so many inmates, they have to build 'super jails'. To me that's just a band-aid solution.
Personally, I think some particular members of society ie. true psychopaths need to remain locked up for society's own protection. Btw, now I remember talking about this with you because we talked about the aboriginal justice 'system'.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote: When someone else is blaming him- or herself for something going wrong, it also seems the natural thing to do to comfort him or her by focusing on that element of bad luck. But if someone is trying to shift blame entirely onto someone else or onto bad luck, then it is also natural to want to redirect the focus onto that person's own behaviour... I do think we need to try to understand why some people behave in this responsibility-avoiding way.

Hard to know when to switch from one to the other. Perhaps that's my issue with the bad luck 'scenario'; it's too easy to shift responsibility. ATST, I recognize your point about some people having more than their fair share of bad luck and while that's true, I still think there has to be a balance between recognizing how one contributes to their own difficult situation and just getting bad breaks. This is not to say that I am using a 'blame-the-victim' ideology. I just think there are victims and then there are victims, if you know what I mean.
In my mind, I think there must be some sort of psychological pay-off for behaving in a responsibility-avoidance way. If one can get away with whatever 'it' is, then it continues. That's not to say that we ought not to pay attention to any outside factors that effect one's ability to be responsibility that you mentioned before. ie. Mental health issues etc. Having said that, I think there is a caution to be found there as well. Depending on the type of illness; there is still a certain amt of responsibility which can be expected.

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: In recent years the number of deaths from accidents in children has fallen, according to the joint report. However, inequalities between the poorest and more affluent families are widening.
I wonder why the number of deaths has fallen. It can't be that those families suddenly had a greater SES. Education of some sort. The dangerous part of this last quote from the audit is the interpretation that could be made about why the children of the more affluent are hurt less often. I wonder if their injuries are just different. Maybe a black eye from a tennis lesson or rope burn from the yacht. Ok, I'm being just a bit facetious there. :)

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Every mother currently receives a copy of 'Birth to Five', a Department of Health produced guide which contains advice on protecting and teaching children about safety." It's a 192-page document....
Hey, I'm completely literate and I wouldn't have had time to even open the first page of that manual when Curtis Jr was a baby. Man, that kid cried for the first 4 years of his life!!!
192 pages? Some bureaucrat (I can get away with this since I am one!) wore down all of his pencils on that piece of 'art'. I was thinking maybe a one page (double-sided) document, very colourful and informative. KISS principle at work.

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: Curtis Jr is lucky in at least one respect: he has you as a mother.
Aww, thanks! But I have to admit that you do have a point about the 17 year old not picking her parents and so on down the generations. But how is it that some of those parents who had terrible parenting didn't repeat the situation when they had kids. Maybe personality or insight or better luck at the genetic wheel of fortune.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I think the two are related. I don't think the problem is poverty per se; it's being relatively poor in a relatively rich society. It's being one of the have-nots when you're surrounded by haves. It's being excluded from the kind of life that you see depicted every day on television.
Could you please explain further how you think being part of the 'have-nots' and being surrounded by the 'haves' is related to lack of critical thinking?

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: now it's 1 in 5 leaving secondary school ... but either way it's not surprising that we're not managing to teach children more complex thinking skills. I don't understand what's going wrong, but I don't think it's a simple matter of teacher quality or teaching methods
I'm not so sure it isn't teaching methods. I don't know about the UK but here the primary and up to secondary school do not teach critical thinking skills at all. It's all rote just as it was when I was there. It's indoctrination and there was streaming of kids from lower SES into trades etc. Double whammy. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't decent teachers but look at the system they have to work with.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote: And right now in the UK the government is going to be cutting back public services, when what we need to do is raise taxes and increase public services. :D
You know it always seems to be that way and yet the MP's always seem to find some way to get a raise.
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I don't think that we should say that ignorance is OK as an excuse not to take care. I think we should acknowledge that ignorance is widespread, and carelessness inevitable. And yes, that means training is essential. But I think the problem goes much deeper than that.
Agreed but in what way do you see the problem as deeper?
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Re: Fox attack! Really?

#61 Post by Alan H » June 21st, 2010, 11:22 am

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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