Reporting Laws is designed to offer information and resources to healthcare, law enforcement, legal, and others who have contact with children, information on various forms of child abuse, how to identify abuse, and how to report the abuse. Many states have mandatory reporting laws which require those in certain professions to report suspected child abuse to law enforcement or social services. Often these laws include repercussions for failure to report.
Report Child Abuse
Find U.S. courts, jails, prisons, police departments, sheriffs, and district attorneys, including addresses, hours, phone numbers, and services by state (or) by office. Courtsystem.org provides an accurate and easy-to-navigate directory of legal and law enforcement office contact information. CourtSystem.org is home to tens of thousands of US courts, jails, prisons, police departments, sheriffs, and district attorneys with easy to access contact information including addresses, hours, phone numbers, and services provided by each office.
The definition of child abuse and child neglect is:
–Physical injury not necessarily visible of a child under circumstances that indicate that a child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed.
–The failure to give proper care and attention to a child including the leaving a child unattended where the child’s health or welfare is harmed or a child is placed in substantial risk of harm.
–An act or acts involving sexual molestation or exploitation whether physical injuries are sustained or not.
–Identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function.
–Finding credible evidence that has not been satisfactorily refuted that physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse occurred.
CHILD ABUSE LAWS
All States have enacted laws and policies that define State roles and responsibilities in protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. Issues addressed in statute include mandatory reporting, screening reports, proper maintenance and disclosure of records, domestic violence, and other issues.
- Reporting and responding to child abuse and neglect
- Maintaining child abuse and neglect records
- Protecting children from domestic violence
- Related issues
MANDATORY REPORTING LAWS
|Series: State Statutes|
|Author(s): Child Welfare Information Gateway|
|Year Published: 2012|
To access the statutes for a specific State or territory, visit the State Statutes Search.
Professionals Required to Report
Reporting by Other Persons
Standards for Making a Report
Inclusion of the Reporter’s Name in the Report
Disclosure of the Reporter’s Identity
Summary of State Laws
- Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect (State Statutes)
- Penalties for Failure to Report and False Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect (State Statutes)
- How the Child Welfare System Works (Fact sheets)
This fact sheet discusses laws that designate the groups of professionals that are required to report cases of suspected child abuse and neglect. Reporting by other persons, the standards for making a report, and confidentiality of reports also are discussed. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included: (PDF – 493 KB)
NOTE: State laws regarding child abuse reporting vary and are revised continually. Contact your local child protective agency for information about the laws in your state.
Options for Victims
Deciding What to do After a Crime
If you are a victim of crime, you may have to cope with challenges you never expected to face. You may have been wounded or lost property you can’t afford to replace. You may be overwhelmed by fear or anger. And you may not know what to do next or where to turn for help. Victim advocates can help you figure out what steps to take and what choices you may need to make. Victim advocates include paid and unpaid service providers working in a variety of settings to respond to crime victims’ mental, physical, financial, social, emotional, and spiritual needs. Advocates can offer advice on how to stay safe and give you information on medical, mental health, and victim services in your community. Below are some of the options you may want to explore, either on your own or with the help of a victim advocate.
Seeking Justice Through the Courts
- Criminal Justice System: If you decide to report the crime, your report to the police creates an official record of the crime and may lead to an investigation. If investigating officers find clear evidence that points to a specific suspect, they may arrest the suspect or issue a citation for him or her to appear in court at a specific time. A prosecutor examines the evidence and decides whether to file charges, go to trial, or enter into a plea agreement with the defendant. The prosecutor makes the decisions about how to proceed, although you may request information about the progress of the case. If the case goes to court, you may be called as a witness. Once a verdict or plea agreement has been reached, the judge will set a date for a sentencing hearing, where you can submit or present a victim impact statement that describes how the crime affected you. The judge may consider your statement in deciding a sentence. Sentences vary widely, depending on the crime and the laws of the jurisdiction. Typical sentences include probation, time in jail or prison, or time already served. Sometimes offenders are ordered to seek counseling or participate in intervention programs for battering, substance abuse, or other crime-related behavior problems. (For more details, see “The Criminal Justice System” Get Help Bulletin.)
- Civil Justice System: Sometimes you can sue the perpetrator and other people (“third parties”) who bear some responsibility for the crime. The goal of a civil suit is to hold defendants “liable” (accountable) for committing the crime or allowing it to happen. You will need to hire an attorney. (Many attorneys will take a civil case on a “contingency” basis: they agree to be paid a percentage of any financial awards that may be granted.) Your attorney will decide if there is enough proof to take the case to court. If you win your case, the court will order the defendant to pay you a specific amount of money. Victims often use civil justice awards to pay for services they need, such as medical care, counseling, or repairing or replacing property.
- Protective Order: If you are a victim of domestic violence or stalking, you may want to seek a protective order from the court. A protective order requires the abuser to stay away from you, your home, your work or other places you regularly go. You can file for a protective order on your own, but you may want to seek help from a victim advocate (see below) who can help you find out if you are eligible, fill out the paperwork, and guide you through the process. (In some states only people in certain types of relationships-such as marriage, domestic partnerships, or shared parenthood-can get protective orders.) In most states, protective orders are issued in civil court, but prosecutors can request them as part of a criminal process (such as investigation, charges, or trial).
Resources to Help You
- Victim Compensation: Every state has a victim compensation program to help victims of violent crime pay for costs related to being a crime victim. Victim compensation typically covers medical treatment, counseling, burial expenses, travel for a court case, other costs, and sometimes even moving expenses. Most states require victims to file their applications for victim compensation within a specific period of time after the crime. Victim compensation is considered a “payer of last resort,” which means that you cannot receive victim compensation if you have any other ways to be reimbursed (such as health insurance, life insurance, or home owners’ or car insurance) for the services you need. A victim advocate can give you information about victim compensation in your state.
- Shelter: Many communities offer temporary shelter to victims of domestic violence and stalking. Shelters often offer a variety of services, including support groups, legal advocacy, one-on-one counseling, safety planning, and hotlines. Some shelter programs are connected to transitional living facilities, usually in confidential locations, where you and your children can stay for several weeks or months. A victim advocate can help you find a shelter, explore your options, and decide what you want to do.
- Safety Planning: A victim advocate can help you plan a strategy for increasing your safety at home, work, school, and other places you regularly go. Creating a safety plan involves looking at your day-to-day life, planning changes to your routine, and learning about steps you can take that could help make you safer. Following a plan can’t guarantee safety but could improve your situation.
- Counseling: You may want to seek one-on-one (or group) counseling with a counselor or therapist to help you cope with the emotional and physical impact of the crime and regain a sense of control over your life.
- Support Groups: You may also want to join a support group with other victims to share information about the impact of crime and how to cope with it. Many support groups are run by professionals: counselors, therapists, and the staff of sexual assault, homicide, and domestic violence programs. A victim advocate can help you find a group that meets your needs.
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2008 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, reprinted in its entirety, and includes this copyright notice.
STATUE OF LIMITATIONS
Child Welfare Information Gateway provides web addresses for State statutes that are accessible online and lists the parts of the code for each State and territory that contains the laws addressing child protection, adoption, child welfare, legal guardianship, and services for youth. It also provides web addresses for States’ regulation and policy sites, State court rules, Tribal codes, and judicial resources. Resources for all States and U.S. territories are included:
State statutes index and search
Access the Child Welfare Information Gateway State Statutes Series by title, or search statutes by individual States on issues related to child abuse and neglect, child welfare, and adoption.
State Civil Statutes of Limitations in Child Sexual Abuse Cases:
Statutes of Limitations (SOL) is the time in which a lawsuit is initiated by an injured person or victim. In most cases, unless there is a special circumstance, the SOL begins to run from the date of the occurrence that caused the injury. Statutes of limitations are enacted by the legislature, which might extend or reduce time limits, based on certain restrictions.
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, nearly every state has a basic suspension of the statute of limitation (“tolling”) for civil actions while a person is a minor. Many states have also adopted additional extensions specifically for cases involving sexual abuse of children. Extensions for filing civil actions for child sexual abuse are most often based upon the discovery rule — by the time the victim discovers the sexual abuse or the relationship of the conduct to the injuries, the ordinary time limitation may have expired. This “delayed discovery” may be due to emotional and psychological trauma and is often accompanied by repression of the memory of abuse. Child victims frequently do not discover the relationship of their psychological injuries to the abuse until well into adulthood — usually during the course of psychological counseling or therapy. They may not even discover the fact of such abuse until they undergo such therapy.
For information on the State Criminal Statutes of Limitations, please visit the National Association for the Prosecution of Child Abuse statutes.
STATE-BY-STATE SOL SUMMARY
§ 6-2-38 Alabama has no special statute of limitations. The Alabama Supreme Court has refused to adopt a discovery rule or any provision to repressed memory claims. Claims must be brought within 2 years of the date of the injury under Alabama Code § 6-2-38
AS §09.10.060AS § 09.10.140AS § 09.10.065 Alaska has no statute of limitations for felony sexual abuse. However, under AS 09.10.065, a person may bring an action at any time for felony sexual abuse of a minor, or felony sexual assault. Also, Alaska has a delayed discovery/realization statute. AS § 09.10.140. Discovery is defined as when “the plaintiff discovered or through use of reasonable diligence should have discovered that the act caused the injury or condition.”
Yes, Minority Tolling Arizona does not have a special statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse. However, in certain cases it has applied it statutory minority and disability “unsound mind” (Arizona Statutes § 12-502) tolling provisions to the general tort statute (Arizona Statutes § 12-542) of limitations.
§16-56-130(a) Yes Arkansas civil claims must be filed within 3 years of the discovery of childhood sexual abuse.
Ca. Civ. Proc. Code 340.1 Yes Civ. Proc. Code 340.1 Effective January 1, 2003. The new law provides that actions for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse may be commenced on or after the victim’s 26th birthday if the person or entity against whom the action is commenced knew, had reason to know, or was otherwise on notice, of any unlawful sexual conduct by an employee, volunteer, representative, or agent, and failed to take reasonable steps, and implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid future acts of unlawful sexual conduct. Additionally, under certain circumstances, a cause of action solely for those claims listed above may be revived for a period of one (1) year. All California victims, regardless of age, have one (1) year from January 1, 2003, within which to bring a civil suit.
§13-80-103.7 (2001) Yes Colorado claims filed within 6 years of reaching the age of majority or 6 years of the removal of a disability as defined by the statute.
Conn. Gen. Stats. 52-577d Yes Connecticut has no common law discovery provision. The existing special statute allows action within 30 years from the date the victim reached the “age of majority.”
§8145 and § 8119 Yes Claims must be brought within 2 years from the date of the injury.Senate Bill 29 (§8145) was introduced on January 25, 2007. It is an act to amend title 10 of the Delaware code by removing the statute of limitations for civil suits relating to child sexual abuse and adding related provisions regarding such suits. The bill, now chapter 102, was signed by the Governor 7/10/07.
District of Columbia
§12-301§ 12-302 (a)(1) Yes Claims must be brought within three years “from the time the right to maintain the action accrues.” If the victim is a minor when the injury occurs, he or she may bring the action within three years of his or her eighteenth birthday.
§ 95.11(7) Yes Claims founded on alleged abuse, or incest, may be commenced at any time within 7 years after the age of majority, or within 4 years after the injured person leaves the dependency of the abuser, or within 4 years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse, whichever occurs later. “For intentional torts based on abuse.”
O.C.G.A. 9-3-33.1 (2001) Yes Civil actions may be brought by victims within 5 years of reaching their age of majority.
2011 Guam Public Law 31-7 Revises the statute of limitations for civil actions for past child sexual abuse to include that, for a period of two (2) years following the effective date of this legislation, victims of child sexual abuse that occurred on Guam who have been barred from filing suit against their abusers by virtue of the expiration of the civil statute of limitations, shall be permitted to file those claims in the Guam Superior Court. Guam2011 Guam Public Law 33-31 Abolishes altogether the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of perpetrators of sex crimes against children.
§ 657-7 Yes, Minority Tolling General limitations period for injuries is 2 years.
§ 6-1704 Yes Suit may be brought within five years of the victim reaching the age of majority. The statute is only applicable to cases arising after its effective date, July 1, 1989.
§ 13–202.2(b) Yes Illinois has a special statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. As amended in 2003, Illinois Statutes § 13–202.2(b) provides: An action for damages for personal injury based on childhood sexual abuse must be commenced within 10 years of the date the victim discovers that the act of childhood sexual abuse occurred and that the injury was caused by the childhood sexual abuse.
Code 34-11-2-4 Yes General statute of limitations requires that any action for injuries to the person must be filed within 2 years of the time when the cause of action accrues, but before the child becomes 31 years of age. §§ 34-10-2-5 prohibits suits based on injuries that transpire in childhood unless brought within two years of the child reaching eighteen.
§ 614.8A Yes Pursuant to Iowa statutory law and case law, victims must commence their lawsuits within 4 years of the discovery of an. Iowa Code Ann. §§ 614.8A which applies to all cases in which injury occurred after July 1, 1990.
§60-523 Yes The abused have 3 years from the age of 18, or three years from the date the victim realizes they have suffered an injury or illness caused by sexual abuse. The statute is expressly retroactive.
§ 413.249 Yes Civil actions for sexual abuse may be brought within five years of the last act of abuse, or within five years of the date the victim’s discovery of the abuse or within five years after the victim reaches the age of eighteen.
LA R.S. 9:2800.9. Yes General discovery rule provides suit must be brought one year from date of discovery.
Rev. Stat. Ann. 14 § 752-C Yes-Anytime Civil or criminal actions may be brought at any time.
Maryland Annotated Code Section 5-117 Extending the statute of limitations for civil child sexual abuse actions to 7 years after the date that the victim attains the age of majority.
General Laws c. 260, § 4C Yes Civil action may be brought 3 years from the act, 3 years from age 18, or 3 years from the time the victim discovered that an emotional or psychological injury or condition occurred.
None. No special statute. The general personal injury statute,§ 600.5805 governs actions for childhood sexual abuse. Sec. 5805. (1) A person shall not bring or maintain an action to recover damages for injuries to persons or property unless, after the claim first accrued to the plaintiff or to someone through whom the plaintiff claims, the action is commenced within the periods of time prescribed by this section.
§541.073 Yes, Action for damages based on personal injury caused by sexual abuse must originate within six years of the time the plaintiff knew or had reason to know that the injury was caused by sexual abuse.” If the victim is a minor, the six year limitations begins to run one year after the plaintiff reaches 18 and would terminate at age 25. Minnesota§541.073 Yes, An action for damages based on sexual abuse: (1) must be commenced within six years of the alleged sexual abuse in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual 18 years or older; (2) may becommenced at any time in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual under the age of 18, except as provided for in subdivision 4; and (3) must be commenced before the plaintiff is 24 years of age in a claim against a natural person alleged to have sexually abused a minor when that natural person was under 14 years of age.Subd. 4. Vicarious liability or respondent superior claims. A claim for vicarious liability or liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior must be commenced within six years of the alleged sexual abuse, provided that if the plaintiff was under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged abuse, the claim must be commenced before the plaintiff is 24 years of age. This subdivision does not limit the availability of these claims under other law.Subd. 5. Title. “Child Victims Act.” (a) This section is effective the day following final enactment. Except as provided in paragraph (b), this section applies to actions that were not time-barred before the effective date. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual under the age of 18, if the action would otherwise be time-barred under a previous version of Minnesota Statutes, section 541.073, or other time limit, an action for damages against a person, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 541.073, subdivision, clause (2), may be commenced no later than three years following the effective date of this section. This paragraph does not apply to a claim for vicarious liability or respondent superior, but does apply to other claims, including negligence. This paragraph applies to actions pending on or commenced on or after the effective date.
§ 15-1-49§ 15-1-59§ 15-1-57 Mississippi victims must file their claims: within 3 years of the act constituting sexual abuse under § 15-1-49,within 3 years of attaining the age of majority under the “minor savings statute” under § 15-1-59, and within 3 years of the victim’s release from imprisonment under § 15-1-57. The Court has declined to apply the discovery statute to cases of delayed realization of the connection between the abuse and the victim’s psychological injury; however, the issue has not been presented in the context of extensive memory repression. The standards for proving fraudulent concealment of a claim are so high as to be impracticable.
§ 537.046 Yes Civil claims must be filed either within 5 years of the time the victim reaches age 18, or within 3 years from the date the victim discovers that physical or psychological injury was caused by abuse.
§ 27-2-216(a) Yes Claim may bring three years after the act of childhood sexual abuse that is alleged to have caused the injury; or 3 years after the time of discovery or reasonably should have discovered that the injury was caused by the act of childhood sexual abuse.
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-207 None. There is no special statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse. Nebraska victims must file their cases as follows:Within 4 years of the acts constituting abuse under the general tort SOL. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-207); The statute of limitations is suspended for victims who were abused as minors until they reach the age of 21 (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-213), therefore, victims have the period of 4 years from attaining the age of 21 in which to institute legal action.
§11.215 Yes Civil claims within 10 years of age 18, or within 10 years of discovery that injury was caused by the abuse. No outside time limitation as long as clear and convincing evidence exists that the abuse occurred.
§ 508:4-9 Yes A person, alleging to have been subjected to any offense under RSA 632-A, or an offense under RSA 639:2, who were under 18 years of age when the alleged offense occurred, may commence a personal action based on the incident within the later of:I. Twelve years of the person’s eighteenth birthday; orII. Three years of the time the plaintiff discovers, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury and its causal relationship to the act or omission complained of.
§ 2A:61B-1 Yes Actions can be initiated within two years of the date of the “reasonable discovery” of the “injury and its causal relationship to the act of sexual abuse.”
§37-1-30 Yes Action can be initiated by the victim’s 24th birthday, or 3 years from the date of discovery of abuse, or had reason to know of the childhood sexual abuse and that the abuse resulted in injury.
N.Y. Civil Prac. Law § 215
N.Y. Civil Prac. Law § 214N.Y. Civil Prac. Law §213-c Yes In New York, there is no extended statute of limitations for sexual abuse; however, if the abuse is treated as an intentional tort, New York’s SOL is one year. N.Y. Civil Prac. Law § 215. If the victim brings a claim against a church or school which administered the perpetrator, or any action that is based in negligence, rather than criminal behavior, the SOL is 3 years—N.Y. Civil Prac. Law § 214. New York adopted a special statute of limitations for victims of sexual crimes in 2006—N.Y. Civil Prac. Law §213-c. The statute provides that actions for civil damages for defined sexual crimes, including sexual abuse of a minor, may be brought within 5 years of the acts constituting the sexual offense.
§ 1-52(16) Yes General discovery statute (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52(16)(1993) and general incompetence tolling provision (§ 1-17(a)(1993).
§28-01-01 The statute provides that cases suspended for infancy, must be put in suit within 1 year of the victim reaching the age of majority (18). Provides that a civil action resulting from childhood sexual abuse must be started within seven years after the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known that a potential claim existed as a result of the alleged childhood sexual abuse.
ORC §2305.111(c) Yes Ohio’s Special Statute of Limitations for Childhood Sexual Abuse, Effective August 3, 2006. The law gives victims 12 years from their age of majority to bring actions against their perpetrators.
Tit. 12, §95 Yes Action commenced two years of the last act, two years of age 18 or two years of discovery, through 20 years from age 18.
§ 12.117 Yes Claims must be brought within six years of age 18, or three years of discovery of the injury and the abuse.
Pa.C.S. § 5533(b) Yes, Minority Tolling Extended Statute of Limitations (SOL) Section 5533(b) (2) of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes is amended to provide a SOL of 12 years from the date of a victim reaching his or her age of majority (18). The act also provides, however, that the amendment to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5533(b) shall not be applied to revive an action that has been barred by an existing statute of limitations on the effective date of the act.
§ 9-1-51 Yes Administer claims against non-perpetrators; actions must be brought within three years of accrual. Within seven years of the last act or discovery that the injury or illness was caused by the act.
§15-3-555 Yes Extends the statute of limitations for civil claims six years after the person reaches twenty-one or three years from the time the victim realizes that their injuries are caused by child sexual abuse.
§ 26-10-25 Yes Within three years of the act or discovery that the injury was caused by the act.
Tenn. Code 28-3-104 and 28-1-106 Yes, Minority Tolling There is no specific statute of limitations for survivors of sexual abuse. General one year SOL. General minority tolling statute suspending the claim until the plaintiff reaches 18 available. Suit must then be brought within one year.
§ 16.0045 Yes Five year statute of limitations for violation of Section 22.011, Penal Code sexual assault; or Section 22.021, Penal Code aggravated sexual assault. Majority tolling provision states that if the victim was a minor, the SOL does not begin to run until his/her eighteenth birthday.
§78B-2-309 Yes A person shall file a civil action for intentional or negligent sexual abuse suffered as a child, within four years after the person attains the age of 18 years; or if a person discovers sexual abuse only after attaining the age of 18 years, that person may bring a civil action for such sexual abuse within four years after discovery of the sexual abuse, whichever period expires later. The victim need not establish which act in a series of continuing sexual abuse incidents caused the injury complained of, but may compute the date of discovery from the date of discovery of the last act by the same perpetrator which is part of a common scheme or plan of sexual abuse.
Title 12, §522 Yes Civil action brought by any person for injury suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse initiated within six years of the act, or six years of the time of discovery.
§ 8.01-243 Yes General statute of limitation for injuries to the victim is 2 years after the time of the injury. If the person at the time of the injury is a minor, the two-year time period will commence once that person comes of age.
§4.16.340 Yes Claims of action shall be commenced within three years of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition; within three years of the time of discovery or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by abuse; or within three years of the time the victim discovered that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought provided that the time limit for commencement of an action is tolled for a child until the he/she reaches eighteen years.
§ 55-2-15 Yes The burden is on the victim to demonstrate that he/she was prevented from knowing of the claim at the time of the injury by reason of fraudulent concealment, inability to comprehend the injury, or other extreme hardship. Mere ignorance of existence of cause of action or of identity of wrongdoer does not prevent running of statute of limitations. Nor can the discovery rule be used to extend past the 20 year statute of repose.
§893.587 Yes Claim may be filed two years of reaching age of majority.
§1-3-105 Yes Action for childhood sexual abuse may be brought eight years after victims eighteenth birthday or 3 years after the time of discovery.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT:
Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
Report suspected abuse or neglect to the local department of social services or to a local law enforcement agency.
If you are a health practitioner, educator, human service worker or a police officer, you are required to report both orally and in writing any suspected child abuse or neglect. Oral reports should be made immediately and written reports must be made within 48 hours of contact which disclose the suspected abuse or neglect.
A report must include:
- The name and home address of the child and the parent or other individual responsible for the care of the child.
- The present location of the child.
- The age of the child.
- Names and ages of other children in the home.
- The nature and extent of injuries or sexual abuse or neglect of the child.
- Any information relayed by the individual making the report of previous possible physical or sexual abuse or neglect.
- Information available to the individual reporting that might aid in establishing the cause of the injury or neglect.
- The identity of the individual or individuals responsible for abuse or neglect.
If reporting abuse or neglect of a child involving mental injury, a description of the substantial impairment of the child’s mental or psychological ability to function that was observed and identified and why it is believed to be attributable to an act of maltreatment or omission of proper care and attention.
All reports of abuse must be made to the local departments of social services and the appropriate law enforcement agency. To initiate prompt handling of the report of suspected child abuse or neglect, employees of a local department of social services must make a report to the protective services unit.
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