Safeguarding and the Triratna Buddhist Community (Brighton)

Safeguarding is sometimes a catch all word for any ethical or behavioural concern that arises in relation to people attending the charity’s activities or buildings.

The safeguarding policies for adults and children in this section outline specific grounds for safeguarding concerns. If you are not sure whether there is a safeguarding concern please contact the safeguarding officer. If there is a possible ethical concern that is not safeguarding contact the safeguarding officer or a trusted Order member.

Below you will find:

  • The safeguarding notice with relevant contact points.
  • The adults at risk safeguarding policy.
  • The Children’s safeguarding policy.
  • The Equality Act 2010 related to ethical breaches arising from discrimination.
  • What to do if you are concerned about someone.
  • Confidentiality

Public Notice:

Safeguarding Young People and Adults

Statement of Principle: The trustees expect that anyone entering any of the charity's properties has a right to be free from any forms of harassment or abuse.

Our policies and guidance can be found in the reception folder and on our website.

Reporting Concerns: If you become concerned about someone, including yourself, being harassed or abused whether a young person or an adult please contact the safeguarding officer or a trustee.

Safeguarding Team: Santacitta, Karunahridaya and Maitridarshin - can be contacted confidentially via this email or in person.

Encrypted confidential email:

Trustees:, via the office t. 01273 772090 or in person

How we will respond: You will be listened to in confidence and taken seriously. Any information you give will be evaluated in light of our policies and national guidance to enable us to act legally and fairly. We will work with you to take appropriate action.

The trustees reserve the right to take appropriate action to protect anyone who enters the charity's properties.

In an emergency and if someone isn’t available to assist contact:

Adult services: Brighton social services 01273 295555

Children’s services: 01273 290400. Out of hours 01273 33590

Police 01273 475432 (999 in an emergency)

Triratna Buddhist Community (Brighton) trustees - December 2019

Adults’ At Risk Safeguarding Policy


The centre might be a haven for many during difficult times and it is important for all Order members, mitras, friends, volunteers and teachers to appreciate they are role models for the movement and it ethical codes. There is a duty to maintain a culture of respect and appropriateness in behaviour and speech towards all attending. We all have the right to feel safe whether at risk of abuse or not.

Do you need to know? This policy applies to all Order members, mitras, employees, friends, volunteers and teachers visiting or involved in activities at or as part of the charity known as Triratna Buddhist Community (Brighton). It is applicable to face to face contact and all forms of online/social media and written contacts whether formal or informal.

The purpose of this policy and its procedures is to address a legal and national policy requirement to demonstrate how we protect people against behaviour that is unlawful and or contrary to national directives for safeguarding adults at risk.

As citizens we may also with this knowledge be the ‘eyes of society’, so to speak, and refer to social services or police someone believed to be at risk from people outside the Charity.

It is important that each person reflects on her/his own behaviour when reading this policy as much as reporting others whose behaviour is considered abusive. Do not assume that because I / we are Buddhists abuse could not happen. It is important to keep the objective facts of the situation present and not be swayed by emotion or a desire to the protect a person or the movement / Order.

This policy covers a broad range of discriminatory and abusive behaviour that everyone needs to have an awareness of.

The Bottom Line - Reporting suspected abuse: If you are concerned about someone being abused within the Charity it is vital that you discuss those concerns with the Charity’s safeguarding officers. It is important not to try to resolve or carry a concern on your own.

Purpose of the policy. This policy sets out policies, practices and procedures for the identification, prevention and investigation of alleged abuse of adults at risk.

It is aimed at protecting adults at risk attending any of the Charity's activities, and ensuring Order members, employees, mitras, friends, volunteers and teachers understand their duties to abide by this policy, protect vulnerable people and protect themselves from accusations.

Who abuses? Abuse may be perpetrated by anyone:

  • Order members, mitras, friends, teachers, employees
  • Parents
  • Informal carers, family, friends, neighbours
  • Other users or tenants of the Charity
  • Strangers or visitors to Charity premises

Who might be an adult at risk?

A person who is:

  • Aged 18 years or over
  • And who needs or may need community care services because they are frail or having a learning disability, physical disability, sight or hearing disability or mental health issues; and cannot (or may not be able to) care for themselves, or take steps to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation. Note that medical treatment is not included though the need for medicine may indicate vulnerability.
  • And who is, or may be, unable to take care of him/herself, or unable to protect him/herself against significant harm or exploitation.

An adult at risk may be a person who:

  • Has physical or sensory disabilities
  • Through age or illness is dependent on other people to help them
  • Has been bereaved, suffered grief and loss
  • Has dementia
  • Has mental health problems
  • Lives with domestic abuse
  • Is homeless
  • Has drug, alcohol or substance dependency
  • Is homeless
  • For any reason may be considered to lack mental capacity (see Appendix 3)

These qualities do not of themselves indicate an adult at risk. Whether or not a person is at risk will vary according to circumstances. Each case must be judged on its own merits when combined with the types and signs below.

Defining Abuse:

Abuse is the harming of a person usually by someone who is in a position of power, trust or authority, or who may be perceived by that person to be in a position of power, trust or authority; for example, an Order member, mitra, employee, friend, volunteer or teacher who is running activities. The harm may be physical, psychological or emotional, or it may exploit the vulnerability of the person in more subtle ways.

Types of abuse: The 2014 Care Act identifies nine types of abuse, all of which have a psychological/emotional aspect.

  1. physical abuse
  2. sexual abuse
  3. neglect and acts of omission
  4. organizational abuse
  5. self-neglect
  6. modern slavery
  7. domestic abuse
  8. discriminatory abuse
  9. financial or material abuse


  • Bodily assaults resulting in injuries e.g. hitting, slapping, pushing,

kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.

  • Bodily impairment e.g. malnutrition, dehydration, failure to thrive
  • Medical/healthcare maltreatment


  • Rape, incest, acts of indecency, sexual assault
  • Sexual harassment or sexual acts to which the person has not

consented, or could not consent or to which they were pressured into consenting.

  • Sexual abuse might also include exposure to pornographic materials,

being made to witness sexual acts; also sexual harassment, with or without physical contact.

  • Sexual contact of any kind with anyone under 16 is a crime. In the case of Order members “position of trust” law means sexual contact of any kind with anyone under 18 could be considered a crime.

Abuse through neglect

  • Ignoring medical or physical care needs
  • Failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational service
  • The withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating

Organizational abuse

  • Neglect or abuse within an institution ( home) or care provided in own home.
  • One-off incident or continuing ill-treatment
  • Poor professional practice, policies or structure of an organization


  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hoarding
  • Drug abuse

Modern slavery

Examples: working as housemaids, in brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars and agriculture against their will, unpaid. Possible signs:

  • Physical appearance, inappropriate clothing.
  • Isolation, not being allowed to travel alone; restricted freedom of movement.
  • Poor living conditions, few possessions, no ID documents
  • Unusual travel times – being dropped off early morning or late at night

Modern Slavery Helpline (UK) 0800 0121 700

Domestic abuse

  • Physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse.
  • ‘Honour’- based violence or forced marriage
  • Involving intimate partner or family member
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • 16 year-olds can be defined as suffering domestic abuse.

Some signs and symptoms of domestic abuse

  • Visible injuries or unexplained marks, scars or injuries
  • Making ‘excuses’ for injuries
  • Controlling and/or threatening relationships

Discriminatory abuse

  • Discrimination including gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, age, skin colour, language, culture, religion or belief, or politics (See the document ‘Living in spiritual friendship with trans, gender-diverse and non-binary people’, available later in 2018.)
  • Harassment
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Not being able to access services or being excluded


  • Threats of harm, controlling, intimidation, coercion,

harassment, verbal abuse, enforced isolation or withdrawal from

services or supportive networks.

  • Humiliation
  • Bullying, shouting or swearing (See the Triratna Model policy on bullying and harassment, “Living with dignity” available later in 2018.)

Financial or material abuse

  • Misuse or theft of money
  • Exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance
  • Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money
  • Personal possessions going missing from home
  • Extraordinary interest and involvement by the family/carer or friend in an individual’s assets

Signs of abuse:


  • A history of unexplained falls or minor injuries
  • Bruising in well-protected areas, or clustered from repeated striking
  • Finger marks
  • Burns of unusual location or type
  • Injuries found at different states of healing
  • Injury shape similar to an object
  • Injuries to head/face/scalp
  • History of moving from doctor to doctor, or between social care agencies; reluctance to seek help
  • Accounts which vary with time or are inconsistent with physical evidence
  • Weight loss due to malnutrition; or rapid weight gain
  • Ulcers, bed sores and being left in wet clothing
  • Drowsiness due to too much medication; or lack of medication causingrecurring crises/hospital admissions

NB Ageing processes can cause changes which are hard to distinguish from some aspects of physical assault e.g. skin bruising can occur due to blood vessels becoming fragile.


  • Disclosure or partial disclosure (use of phrases such as ‘It’s a secret’)
  • Medical problems, e.g. genital infections, pregnancy, difficulty walking or sitting
  • Disturbed behaviourg. depression, sudden withdrawal from activities, loss of previous skills, sleeplessness or nightmares, self-injury, showing fear or aggression to one particular person, inappropriately seductive behaviour, loss of appetite or difficulty in keeping food down.
  • Unusual circumstances, such as, for example, two people found in a toilet/bathroom area, one of them distressed

Signs of psychological or emotional vulnerability

  • Isolation
  • Unkempt, unwashed appearance; smell
  • Over meticulousness
  • Inappropriate dress
  • Withdrawnness, agitation, anxiety; not wanting to be touched
  • Change in appetite
  • Insomnia or need for excessive sleep
  • Tearfulness
  • Unexplained paranoia; excessive fears
  • Low self-esteem
  • Confusion

Signs of neglect

  • Poor physical condition
  • Clothing in poor condition
  • Inadequate diet
  • Untreated injuries or medical problems
  • Failure to be given prescribed medication
  • Poor personal hygiene

Signs of financial or material vulnerability

  • Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills
  • Unexplained or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts
  • Disparity between assets and satisfactory living conditions
  • Unusual level of interest by family members and other people in the

vulnerable person’s financial assets

Signs of discrimination

  • Lack of respect shown to an individual
  • Substandard service offered to an individual
  • Exclusion from rights afforded to others, such as health, education,criminal justice

Other signs of abuse

  • Controlling relationships
  • Inappropriate use of restraint
  • Sensory deprivation e.g. spectacles or hearing aid
  • Denial of visitors or phone calls
  • Failure to ensure privacy or personal dignity
  • Lack of personal clothing or possessions


Vulnerability can be variable we recognise that many people who are generally emotionally and psychologically stable in most aspects of their lives may on occasion find themselves vulnerable or at risk. This may be because of illness, relationship breakdown or bereavement, or because their practice of meditation or Buddhism has made them more sensitive and self-aware, particularly if they are new to Buddhism.

For example, we will bear in mind that a person who is emotionally vulnerable for any reason may not be able to make balanced decisions regarding giving money or becoming more involved with Triratna, or entering into intimate relationships, whether friendship or relationships which are more romantic or sexual in nature. We will take great care to help each other avoid exploiting people in such everyday situations of vulnerability.

Please help each other to avoid exploiting such vulnerability, consciously or unconsciously.

Protecting ourselves and others in relationships

More or less conscious harm can occur in our dealings with others in classes and other formal face-to-face activities; it can also occur in personal friendships, especially between those of greater and lesser experience of Buddhism, where one may be seen by the other to be in a position of trust and authority.

This may happen even where the more experienced person does not see her/himself as in a position of power or authority. The responsibility for this lies with the more experienced person to acknowledge.

It is possible that some of our relationships will be sexual. However, it is important to take care in starting sexual relationships where there is a considerable difference in level of Buddhist experience between the partners, particularly between Order members and those not ordained.

See the Triratna Ethical Guidelines 2019 (appendix 6), and the College ‘Statement on relationships between preceptors and those they ordain 2017’ (appendix 5)

Protecting people with psychological disorders - face to face

People attending our centre and activities occasionally include adults experiencing psychological disorder ranging from mild to severe. The charity does not provide a service to diagnose or help people with psychological disorders. They may not be helped either by the kindness of Buddhists or the Dharma. It is important that we are honest with people and where appropriate advise them to seek help elsewhere.

It is important not to use any professional skills you may have in the name of the charity, the centre or Buddhism or to use the premises for such purposes without prior agreement with the leadership team who may refer the matter to the trustees.

For people with serious psychological disorders Buddhist practices involving contemplation of the illusion of self or just sitting meditation can be disorientating and highly disturbing. We may need to encourage them in traditional Buddhist practices involving the calming of body and mind and ethics. Avoid meditation altogether during periods of relapse.

If you believe a person to be at risk of suicide or self-harm, or to pose a risk to o thers alert our safeguarding officer or the police as appropriate to time and risk.

Consult with the Triratna Safeguarding Team if relevant to the immediate needs of the situation.

Protecting people with psychological disorders – online / social media

Buddhism and meditation are increasingly taught using online media. In person, it is relatively easy to notice where a person may have compromised mental health; online it is more difficult.

Amongst people seeking individual online guidance from members of the Triratna Buddhist community there may be some reporting meditation experiences which are an indication of serious psychological disorder.

In engaging in individual guidance online by email, blog, social media or text

  • please do what you can, at the start, to establish with local Order members the identity, location and suitability of the person.
  • Identify which local Order members are available locally to support the person face to face.
  • gain permission from the person to contact those Order members if we believe they are at risk. (This does not apply where the participant is an Order member and therefore well known to us.)

Children’s Safeguarding / Protection policy


Triratna is a worldwide network of friends in the Buddhist life which aspires to be a source of great richness, support and strength. However, we need to be aware of and be prepared to acknowledge that people’s behaviour can fall short of standards in respect to the welfare and safeguarding of children and young people. We need to be prepared to notice, question and act where we witness or hear about concerning behaviour. Naivety, loyalty to friends, lack of awareness, or an assumption that ‘it couldn’t happen here’ or ‘they would never do a thing like that’ are not reasonable responses.

This policy is based in law, government directives and good practice in England and Wales. It embodies the Buddha’s first ethical precept to avoid harming living beings and the second of not taking the not given. It promotes the aspirations of deeds of loving kindness and open- handed generosity.

The purpose of this policy

This policy applies to all charity staff, trustees, Order members, mitras, volunteers, parents, teachers and anyone else representing the charity, using any of its premises or involved in any of its activities.

It lays out the necessary conditions to provideprotection for children who visit or receive services from the charity. This includes children of Buddhist parents.

  • protection for friends, mitras and Order members who may have contact with children.
  • practices and procedures related to the protection of children.
  • a course of action to be followed if abuse is suspected.

Safeguarding officer/s are responsible for co-ordinating the protection of children and adults who may be at risk. They are responsible for ensuring safeguarding is taken seriously by the charity and for assisting the trustees in complying with their safeguarding obligations as required by the Charity Commission.

Although we do not currently run activities specifically u18s, we recognize that they may make ad-hoc visits. Also, a person u18 may wish to attend our activities regularly.

Child protection values

The charity recognizes that:

  • the welfare of the child is paramount.
  • all children, regardless of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have the right to equal protection from harm.
  • partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers, and statutory agencies is essential in promoting young people's welfare.

The charity will seek to safeguard children and young people by:

  • valuing them, listening to and respecting them.
  • adopting child protection guidelines and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers.
  • recruiting staff and volunteers safely and ensuring checks are made where necessary.
  • sharing information about child protection and good practice with children, parents,

staff and volunteers.

  • sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving

parents and children appropriately.

  • providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, supportand training.

Who is a child?

In the United Kingdom a child is a person who has not yet passed their 18th birthday. Sometimes the phrase ‘children and young people’ is used to cover this age range to reflect their perceptions of themselves.

What is child abuse?

The World Health Organization defines child abuse as ‘all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.’

Types of abuse

  • Physical abuse including hurting or injuring a child, inflicting pain, poisoning, drowning, or smothering.
  • Sexual abuse including direct or indirect sexual exploitation or corruption of children by involving them (or threatening to involve them) in sexual activities.
  • Emotional abuse Repeatedly rejecting children, humiliating them or denying their worth and rights as human beings.
  • Neglect The persistent lack of appropriate care of children, including love, stimulation, safety, nourishment, warmth, education, and medical attention.
  • Discrimination, harassment, and bullying are abusive and can harm a child physically and emotionally.

A child may be subjected to more than one type of abuse simultaneously.

Signs of abuse

These are many and varied. This list is not exhaustive but forms the basis of child protection in the Uk for the identification of an initial concern:

  • Injuries that cannot be explained
  • Injuries not consistent with falls or rough games
  • Malnourishment
  • Any allegations made by a child concerning abuse
  • Sexual activity through words, play or drawing
  • Self-harm
  • Eating disorders

There may be other reasons for these signs which are not abuse. If you have any doubt contact the safeguarding officer.

Engaging u18s in person

Outside of our own personal and family relationships we will not arrange to meet any child under 16 individually anywhere without written permission from their parent or guardian. Having gained permission we will conduct individual meetings with a child under 16 in public spaces such as our Buddhist centre reception area or a room with the door open.

We do not need parental permission to meet those aged 16-17 but we will take care to meet in public spaces such as our reception area or a room with the door open and in earshot of others. We will not take them out alone.

We will not give lifts to those under 16 on their own. If this is unavoidable, we will ask the child to sit in the back seat. We will not take them out alone.

Engaging with u18s online and on social media

We are aware that individual contact with under 18s online, by email or using social media carries the risk of accusations of grooming - relationships established with a view to sexual contact.

We will not engage personally by email, text or online with anyone under 18 using social media, for example befriending them on Facebook, including them in WhatsApp groups or similar – except with written permission from their parent/guardian. The permission should specify which medium is being used and include the name of Order member/mitra who will be running it/them.

The charity may receive emails from school pupils wanting information about Buddhism. Having answered their questions, we will not engage in further personal correspondence unless agreed by the parent or guardian.

Welcoming school visits safely

From time to time schools and other youth groups visit our Buddhist centre. We will require every group to bring at least two DBS checked adults capable of supervising all members of the group at all times. We are not to be left alone with their pupils. Trustees and centre staff do not need to be DBS checked under these circumstances.


What to do if you witness or suspect possible abuse

Advice for everyone:



  • Stay calm
  • Listen patiently
  • Reassure the person they are doing the right thing by telling you
  • Clarify issues of confidentiality early on. Make it clear that you will have to discuss their concerns with safeguarding personnel
  • Explain what you are going to do
  • Write a factual account of what you have seen and heard, ideally immediately (memory is fickle). Use the outline in Appendix 1.

Do not

  • Appear shocked, horrified, disgusted or angry
  • Press the individual for details
  • Make comments or judgments other than to show concern
  • Promise to keep secrets
  • Confront the alleged perpetrator
  • Risk contaminating potential evidence by investigating matters yourself. Your responsibility is to take the person seriously, not decide whether what they are saying is true or to try to find out the details.

What to do next:

  • Your first concern is the safety and wellbeing of the person bringing the allegation. Do not be distracted from this by loyalty to the person who has been accused or your desire to maintain the good name of Triratna or your centre.
  • All allegations or suspicions are to be treated seriously. No abuse is acceptable. If you become aware of possible abuse you must report it to one of the charity’s safeguarding officers who will co-ordinate handling of the matter on behalf of the trustees (see the notice in the ground floor lobby opposite the lift). If a safeguarding officer isn’t available and if you feel it can’t wait contact either social services t. 01273 295555 / the police t. 01273 475432 (999 in an emergency) / Triratna safeguarding team –
  • Confidentiality: Every person has a legal right to privacy under the International Convention on Human Rights and data protection legislation; therefore if possible you need to get the person’s consent to share the information they have given you, within the limits described here and below. If the person seems to lack mental capacity and / or is at significant risk of harm or risk to others it will be necessary to pass on this information. You may need to override their wish.
  • Tell the person who you are going to share this information with (safeguarding personnel / police) and make sure to tell them that this information is confidential to people relevant to the situation unless there are exceptional circumstances (eg: significant danger to self or others which is unreasonable to allow to continue).
  • Whatever the immediate outcome write a factual account of what you have heard or witnessed (as soon as possible). See appendix 1 for what to record – hard copies are kept in a folder by the reception desk. Give your notes to the safeguarding officer.
  • It can be uncomfortable but it is essential that you don’t share any information with others in your circle or network that might lead to the identification of the person, their circumstances or an alleged perpetrator. It will also protect the sangha from fear, rumour and disharmony which will make it much more difficult to deal with the matter effectively without causing further harm. If personally helpful keep in contact with safeguarding personnel.

Equality Act 2010

The 2010 Equality Act specifically addresses discrimination against people with characteristics protected by law and outlines types of discrimination or behaviour towards them that is unlawful. There are situations where people might be vulnerable or not in the ordinary course of life and who would not come within the scope of safeguarding procedures. Their circumstances and protection are more adequately addressed through the Equality Act 2010 and our ethical guidelines.


The Triratna Buddhist Community (Brighton) and all other activities belonging to the charity are subject to the Act whether as an employer, a provider of public functions and as an Association with a membership.

Personal Characteristics included in the Act

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

What behaviour is unlawful?

Under the Act people are not allowed to discriminate, harass or victimize another person because they have any of the protected characteristics. There is also protection against discrimination where someone is perceived to have one of the protected characteristics or where they are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic.

  • Discrimination means treating one person worse than another because of a protected characteristic (known as direct discrimination) or
  • putting in place a rule or policy or way of doing things that has a worse impact on someone with a protected characteristic than someone without one, when this cannot be objectively justified (known as indirect discrimination).
  • Harassment includes unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect or violating someone’s dignity or which creates a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for someone with a protected characteristic.
  • Victimization is treating someone unfavourably because they have taken (or might be taking) action under the Equality Act or supporting somebody who is doing so.

What is sexual harassment?

Harassment includes unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect or violating someone’s dignity or which creates a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for someone with a protected characteristic. Here are some points to be aware of:

Power imbalances:

Staff and volunteers are in a position of responsibility / authority in relation to attendees of the centre and need to be aware of how this might impact their relationships.

It is a misuse of that power to meet your own needs for a relationship with an attendee and is likely to breach trust. This is particularly important to avoid when someone is feeling vulnerable or in distress.


  1. Some people have had their boundaries destroyed by previous abuse and find it difficult to recognize when their boundaries are broken and might not be able to defend them effectively, especially if they have trauma-based responses and “freeze”.
    • Action: It is always better to assume you don't know and to offer concern through means other than physical contact.
  2. Sexual interactions with attendees require particular sensitivity. It is important to recognize and accept that physical touching can be construed in a romantic/sexual manner.
    • Actions: Always check with the person if contact is ok and helpful. If there is any doubt don't offer support through physical contact.
    • As a Buddhist it is also important to be clear about our intentions / mind states. A useful question to consider before considering any touch is” who is the touch for?” It won’t be seen as mean or cold if touch isn’t offered to someone in distress as warmth can be shown in voice and demeanour.
    • Frontal hugs are best avoided.
    • Any touch involving “sexual areas” is clearly to be avoided.
  3. Assertive communication is essential to maintain boundaries - be clear and straightforward about this in your mind and in what you say. This protects both the person and yourself.
  4. When talking with someone in distress be aware of your location. Ensure you are not in closed room alone and that others can hear you.



 The charity is required to keep any written or digital information related to safeguarding confidential. This includes a couple of elements:

  • Firstly, everyone needs to keep any sharing of information confidential to those people who need to know. This includes anyone reporting information making sure they don’t share details with friends etc.
  • Secondly, written and digital information will be securely stored under lock and key or a password protected online folder.


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