A six year old girl in the Detroit suburbs was kicked off her cheer-leading squad because her mother objected to the following cheer the 5 – 7 year old girls were being taught:
Our backs ache, our skirt’s too tight, Our booties shake from left to right.
Jennifer Tesh, the mother of a six year old on the cheer-leading squad voiced an objection to this cheer. She was informed it had been going on for years and that she should not question it. When she did ,the squad told her that her daughter and she were no longer welcome and she must leave the squad. They further indicated that she could return next year but would be on “probation.”
Here is more evidence of the cultural meltdown of the last few decades. Teaching six year olds to reference their “booty” (i.e. hind parts or buttocks) in a cheerleader chant is not “cute” as some say. It is highly inappropriate and a sexualizing of children.
Sadly, the sexualization of children has been going on for a long time now in provocative advertisements, sit-coms, the fashion industry, the entertainment industry (especially that portion directed to young teenagers), certain beauty pageants and other settings such as cheer-leading. Many of you on this blog in the past have also told me how difficult it is to buy modest clothes for your children, especially the girls.
Not only are children sexualized, they are also exposed to sexual matters at dramatically young ages. This also is done through themes in movies and music as well as sitcoms aimed at children, and by internet pornographers.
These are very serious matters and surely invoke the Lord’s anger, for he has said, But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt 18:6).
In recent years the sexual abuse of children has reached horrifyingly high levels (1 is too many). It has been usual to lay this at the feet of the Catholic priests, celibacy and the Church. Yet, the truth is that it has also occurred in huge numbers in other settings as well, such as public schools, in the family and at the hands of Internet predators. We cannot overlook the fact that our decaying moral fabric and hyper-sexualized culture contributes to the sinful sickness of the sexual abuse of children and minors. Having six year old girls dance provocatively and reference their “booty” is further evidence of the moral meltdown of our times. It would have been unthinkable a few decades ago for such a thing to happen.
We need to reverence and respect the innocence of children. To encourage and call cute what is essentially lewd behavior is deeply sinful and harmful. Not only does it endanger children and disrepect their innocence, but it also influences an increasing perversion in our culture of the sexual abuse of children.
God bless Jennifer Tesh and parents like her who stand up against what is wrong, who swim against the tide that is flowing to the immoral swamp. She probably has no legal recourse but at least she can say she taught her daughter to do what was right despite the cost.
30 Replies to “Cultural Meltdown File: On the Sexualization of Children”
Thank you for this post. I do not know how to fight this sexualization of our children.
I did not re-enroll my daughter in dance classes because at the end of the a year there is a big performance and I am sorry to say that not all the teachers are choosing appropriate music or choreography. It is a highly sexually charged environment and even though I complained, apparently other parents do not have a problem with this, so the programming stays as is, at the teacher’s discretion.
Last weekend, I was shocked at the cheerleaders on the opposing team (junior football) shouting provocative words. And the parents were all clapping along. These were 10-11 year-old girls. Their daughters. It was not cute. But I did not say anything to anybody. I was embarrassed. What should I have done?
May the devil drink his poison and the Blood of Christ purify us and bring us to life everlasting.
What surprises me the most is that most children just take it as being “grown up”…. I thought Being in the 21st century we’d be more prudent…. Fyi, im under 20 and i still find this extremely distrubing. God Bless the children.
You mean I’m the first to comment today? I’m with the mother all the way. It goes right back to the
early beauty queen murder of Jon Bennet. Glad the Mom nipped it right then and there. Same goes for
this silly overnight business of the children. Unless I knew the parents real well, I never allowed my daughter to attend any sleepovers. Never mind the comments “you are overprotective”. When it involves anything that could be not right, it’s for me to make the decision. God bless J. Tesh.
Recently, I was at our town beach with my three sons (8,6,4). Some young, perhaps 5 and up, girls were singing lyrics and copying the dance routines of Lady Gaga on the beach. Their parents were watching and nodding along. The whole display was mortifying. The beach was empty but for us and them so they did not have much of an audience as my boys mostly ignored them. Eventually, their little show ended and they began playing more normally.
About an hour later, I brought my boys up to a grassy area under a tree to get them changed. I usually slip large t-shirts over their heads and then have them slide out of their suits while I hold a towel around them as a tent. The father of the little Lady Gagas actually came over to me and with some pretty intense language castigated me for getting them dressed in public. He specifically told me that 1. there are little girls around who would be harmed by seeing my boys 2. that there could be pedophiles around (again, nobody else was at the beach) and 3. what was wrong with me that I wasn’t making them get dressed in the bathroom (the bathrooms are usually wet and not very clean).
I apologized because I didn’t want a confrontation. I cannot help but see this though, as a prime example of the bizarre disconnects in our hyper-sexualized society. Somehow little girls gyrating like strippers was ok but my boys changing their shorts was perverse.
My daughter will never be on the sidelines wearing a teeny skirt.
She’ll be on the field with the marching band, fully clothed.
The sexualization of our children is taking place through a wide variety of modes of attack. I picked my 10 year old daughter (fourth grade) up from a play date at a friend’s house one afternoon after school, and as we were driving home she told me she had been playing a game on her friend’s brother’s iPad, and that her character had gotten married in the game, The Sims. This is a very popular game which allows players to create a character who lives a life in a neighborhood with other characters, works, earns money, and maintains a household. My daughter had met another character, become friends, then the friendship turned into a “budding romance” and then they had gotten “married” and set up house together. The other character was a female. When we got home I did some research on the game and was horrified to say the least.
The game allows the characters to have a form of sex in the game, something they call “woo hoo” where the characters strip down, get naked (private parts are censored with black rectangles), get into bed and do their thing. Adultery is allowed in the game. There is also violence and adult language.
I contacted the parents of my daughter’s friend and let them know about the game, and that we were disturbed that they had allowed our child to play this game. The were as upset as we were, but had no idea, they said, what the game was about. They deleted the game from the iPad.
As a parent we face a difficult job maintaining the narrow window of innocence during which our children are not faced with the worries and neuroses of adult life in a culture that is enslaved to lust, gluttony, and greed, and which seeks to draw our kids, as a valuable consumer demographic, into a mindset of thoughtless, automatic consumption of anything the mercantile world presents to us in an advertisement to buy. In that culture of instant gratification, virtues such as patience, fortitude, abstinence, and putting off gratification are anathema, because people who practice them make less obedient and profit-generating consumers. In a sense, authentic Catholic culture is a great obstacle to that indoctrination, but many Catholics have been seduced away from authentic Catholic culture.
It is extremely difficult to make a stand against the tide. Our children are the only kidsa in their classes who arrant allowed to watch Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network. They are the only children whose parents have set time limits for their time on the Mac using the Parental Controls (30 minutes peer day on weekdays, an hour on weekends) and limit the sites they can vista using Safari. They are the only children who don’t have an electronic game device. And we hear about it. We run the risk that our children will go to friends houses and prefer to go to friends houses where the parents don’t impose those restrictions. They feel that we are turning them into oddballs, and feel different from their peers. It has been a difficult challenge to help them learn and live Christian values in an environment which is sometimes hostile to them.
We have our children in very well respected public schools, and feel that perhaps as Cathollics they will be salt and light in the world, which they will, eventually, have to be in but, we hope, not of. But perhaps that is too much of a burden to place on them in their formative years. The alternative is to spend more than we can afford for a Catholic school, or home school them.
“they will be salt and light in the world…”
Rouxfus, I, too, have my children in well-respected public schools. I understand how difficult it is for us to help them maintain their Christian values in the milieu they traverse.
I would love some assistance from our local Diocese or even at our parish level that helps parents of public school students understand what our Catholic children are up against in the secular school system. We have reached a point in America where there are more practicing Catholics in the public school system than in Catholic school. It is what it is. We must act on the facts, even if we wish it to be otherwise. Instead of waxing nostalgia about how wonderful (and inexpensive) the Catholic schools used to be we need to focus on where the young people are at today and figure out who to KEEP Our KIDS Catholic where they are at.
If we believe ourselves to be the “Church Militant” we need to understand that the youth of our Church who attend public schools are on the “front lines.” They are like the marines: first in, last out. They need more than the sacraments to battle the wickedness they face daily.
We need something to education the parents. Then we need to support the children. Remember first we must put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we can help others.
I think the key to success in raising moral children in public or Catholic school is to get involved. Went to back to school might at my son’s public school last week (he’s in 7th grade and until this year attended Catholic school) and I was really impressed. They talked about stressing respect for others and self. They talked about clothing and the need to preserve modesty to help preserve order. They talked about how, in health class, the girls are spoken to about having consideration for the boys in their manner of dress and behavior, i.e hugging hellos and goodbyes. Okay, so maybe they don’t use words like morality or charity, but the parents at this school did engage the faculty in stressing that they want their children behaving “properly,” and programs, even rules, at the school reflect this. I believe that more parents than not want to preserve their children’s innocence. I have yet to talk to any parent in my child’s new (public) school who think my standards for my son are “Christian crazy,” but I think many have a fear of speaking up for what’s right for fear of being painted as such. I’m lucky that parents at my son’s school have already stood up for some basic standards, but if that’s not the case in your children’s school, be brave and be the leader. You will have followers.
To all of the parents out there: please do not tell your daughters that “they” shouldn’t dress a certain way, or watch certain things, or say/do certain things – tell them that “no one” should be doing that. Example: I recently became friends with a woman who has watched a movie called “Sex in the City” (I think that’s the title) so many times that she knows it all by heart. Her 15 yr. old daughter watches along with her, but the mother does not allow the daughter to view certain parts of the movie, saying that she is ‘too young’. What a terrible message to send your daughter, that your morals will change once you are ‘old enough’. Wrong is wrong, no matter how old you are. And please, take the time to learn all about the environment your children are in when they are not under your supervision. Case in point: our local Catholic high school was involved in cheerleading competition. The girl’s routine looked like it was learned at a strip club. Bumps and grinds and pelvic thrusts, and not much else. These girls were taught this routine by an adult! And adults approved!! My complaint to the principal fell on deaf ears. To this day, I do not understand why fathers pretend to not know what’s going on as their daughters, through their dress and behavior, entice boys and men alike. I’m sure the parents who are O.K. with their children being sexualized wouldn’t be on this website, so I’m preaching to the choir. But do any of you know why the vast majority of parents are O.K. with all of this? Does the fact that fathers watch their little girls grow from infants into young women incrementally make them oblivious to the fact that they have breasts showing when they wear skimpy tops? And that posing like the models in flyers from the local department stores is unbelievably unladylike? Or have men become so twisted because of the advertising and entertainment media that they enjoy seeing their daughters dressed/behaving immodestly? May God bless all of you parents out there. May Mother Mary and St. Joseph be your models and your guides. May God keep your children safe from harm.
As the father of a boys 8 and 4 my wife and I are beginning to run onto this issue everywhere. My 8 year-old is now old enough that his “radar” is beginning to pick up a lot of the stuff around him. Like Rouxfas we limit TV and computer time and “censor” what is watched, but there is a world out there that doesn’t agree with our family’s values. A simple trip to mall exposes us to full window sized pictures in the lingere shop that a generation ago would have been secretly looked at behind the shed. I have also witnessed situations like Sophie where a complete disconnect on the part of parents let’s them think nothing of young girls emulating that GaGa woman, but somehow find puritanical values when something as innocent as getting changed behind a towel at the beach. Also having attended dance recitals in the past I am amazed what is considered cute and “normal”. I am a child of the sexual revolution, born in the sixties and raised on diet of mechanical sex ed. It lead me only to chasing women with a complete disregard for respect, there was but one thing on my mind. Somehow we, freed of the sexual straightjacket of an earlier era, were going to be so happy. I didn’t work for me and looking at my peers it didn’t work for anyone. I am much happier with a wife whom I love and loves me in return through thick and thin.
That’s what I did. Marching Band was great, lots of discipline and those parents and kids were wonderful.
Besides, more self discipline (which is so sorely lacking) playing an instrument.
My husband and I both were in marching band at our respective high schools. We both still are active musicians; he plays trumpet in a brass quintet that rehearses weekly, and I play in a clarinet quartet that performs every couple of months.
Marching-band people do not produce cheerleader people. Our fourth-grader is SO excited about starting trumpet this year. My husband already has taught her some basics, and she already can play Hot Cross Buns.
I am amazed to see the responses and that too from a western country like the USA. While the west is trying to undo the mistakes of modernism, I am sorry to say that a country like India which was traditionally known for its modesty is copying the west in more ways than one. More and more people are wearing outfits that cover less of their bodies and our speech is less respectful. We have more and more parents coming up and admonishing Sunday school catechists who teach kids to be more mindlful of their dressing while coming to church or even objecting to lifestyles that are not in line with the teachings of the Church. Today, I am happy that there are parents like you who are still guarding their children in line with the Word of God. We can only pray that more and more of us see the truth and value ‘modesty’ as one of the virtues we are called to practise as Catholics.
Yes Lizzy – i totally agree with you – i too am an indian and feel very upset and angry about the moral decline in our Indian society and i personally blame Bollywood for it and the Censor board for the moral decline in our society which was so much diferent even 10 yrs ago. I now live in Australia and even here the moral decline is so rapid -= very soon our federal govt (in this Christain country headed by an Atheist!) will be trying to bring in a bill on Euthanasia which i know will be followed by gay marriage!
Sometimes i feel we devout Christians are fighting a losing battle with the Atheists who are trying everything they can to do away with Christ and Christianity. But we are to live in hope – for that God-given hope is all we have to help us through. In the end, with our Lord on our side, we will triumph!
Looking at all that is happening in our world today, i am reminded of a verse in the Bible ….” in those days what is evil they will call good and what is good they will call evil”…………..we are living to see this prophecy come true.
May the Lord Jesus have mercy on us and guide us and our children safely through!
I have two boys and buying clothing for them is hard enough with all the skulls and demonic looking symbols on them, but with girls it is much worse. After the size 6x there is is hardly anything you can buy that isn’t too mature for their age, too tight, too short. The sales circulars have young children in suggestive poses. The shirts have sassy,disrespectful sayings on them. It is almost overwhelming at times. Sadly, some of the parents I see dress in the same type of clothing. The kids hardly have a chance.
I am glad that I homeschooled my one son for 6 years. I got to see that a lot of what the world calls “normal” really is not. If your child goes out of the home to school, even Catholic school, expect to do a lot of education on what is acceptable and what is not. You have to have a strong family life rooted in prayer and the sacraments to keep your kids on the right track.
We do not watch any prime time TV. You have to be careful with Disney even. A lot of their movies are PG (profanity guaranteed, as Michael Medved once said). The thing that always amazed me was how McDonalds gives out promotional toys to little children that have characters to movies they really should not see.
My daughter & I just had a discussion about why Disney Channel et al are verboten. I told her that I don’t like the way people on those shows talk, or act (as an aside, blech on the acting even if the content were more to my liking), or dress.
Fortunately we have TiVo, so she gets to watch her favorite shows, Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe and Good Eats with Alton Brown.
Well I think anyone viewing children is a sexual way is sick and horrible and I think oversexualizing children is wrong but
I don’t believe saying “booty” in a cheer is sexualizing small children. I don’t believe that’s what the creators of the cheer had in mind. Isn’t it sad that some perverts hear that and the first thing they think of is something sexual?
Rouxfus I play the sims and if I’m not mistaken it is indeed rated “M” for Mature, so your 10 year old probably shouldn’t have been playing it in the first place.
I just think that in America parents are so reluctant to talk to their children about sex and the children end up learning about it on their own or from their idiot friends or from tv and that’s why so many kids grow up to make bad sexual decisions. It’s all rather sad.
Do you really think that those who draw the rather obvious conclusion that this does in fact sexualize children are “perverts?” I assure you I am no pervert. Children should not be taught to shake or talk about their “bootie” It’s not perverted Shacoria, it’s just plain common sense and if you think it’s all so innocent I encourage you to take off the rose colored glasses.
Msgr. Pope, let me start by saying I thoroughly enjoy your blog entries. In this matter, I do agree with Shacoria. I do think that children are being exposed to a more sexualized culture in many respects. For me though, I think this is being overly sensitive and putting on some overly critical glasses. The children aren’t talking about their “asses” or really stretching into harsh or perverse tones. Should parents condemn their children whenever they refer to their buttocks and scold them for being too sexual? Should I be confessing the fart jokes I told when I was 8 to a priest immediately? Is anyone making reference to their behind in jest considered sexually deviant? I get that somethings are a slippery slope to bad behavior, but this is a pretty big stretch to me. Call my glasses rosy if you must, but I would rather be wearing them through this life and trusting in the good as Jesus wanted before I look with critical eyes upon something that is done to entertain and be fun for innocent children. There are much bigger challenges we need to focus on in our faith lives and in our culture than the word booty.
Rouxfus, I want you to know you are doing the right thing. I grew up a victim to the “drugs sex and rock and roll” generation and fell for it in the sexual areas.
Teaching your children to have self respect is a big task whether your home -school or catholic-school or public-school.
Be VERY careful in believing that your children are the ONLY ones not having those things. I went to catholic school and a few girls, not all, only a few, had “things”. It was popular back then to have beanies made of the same material as our uniforms, and navy blue knee highsocks and black penny loafers with a shiny silver dime in them. I still remember telling my mom “But I’m the only one who doesn’t have…” When mohair cardigan sweaters became the rage, and we were allowed to have sweaters over our uniforms, I wanted one so badly I cried. I babysat all summer to earn the money and went to school the next fall with my cardigan and it was out of fashion.
It is NOT wrong to prevent your children from becoming victims to “fashions”. It will help them to become discerning and you’ll be influencing the quality of life your grandchildren will have.
Good judgment is often times based upon learning from mistakes. You can doom your children to learn from their own mistakes, many of which will scar them or wound them for life, or you can teach them to learn from others mistakes.
When my son reached college age I was terrified that he’d fall for the drinking and drugs, but he didn’t. I talked to him about it once after he’d phoned me after a party. He said “Mom do you remember when you talked to me about trust. You told me that it was your job to be my mother and it was my job to be a child. You told me that sometimes I would HATE when you said “no” to things, but you had to say “no” to protect me from things I could not understand yet. You said I’d just have to trust you, because you were my mom and loved me. You asked me if I loved my friends as much as I did my family, and I said no. And you asked me who I would trust to do the right thing by me, somebody who loved me or somebody who might not care if I got hurt. I never forgot that.”
He was 13 when I had that talk with him. At 15 when he went on a half-the USA tour with a Drum and Bugle Corps, we had a similar discussion in which I said that now he was going to test what he’d learned about self respect, and he’d have to put himself in check. At the end of summer, when the corps was back in town I went to see them play and something was very odd looking in his section of the corps. All the boys looked like thay had something white under their hats except him.
It looked ridiculous, and I wondered why the kids were wearing those things. It turned out, during the night, their section leader had dared all their section to shave their heads “in support of their section”. A “solidarity move”. The drum section had their solidarity move, and the bugle section had theirs. My son said “No it will look really bad with our dark suntans.” His whole section derided him horribly, they all shaved their heads and treated him pretty roughly because he still refused.
In the morning when the Corps director saw their heads, instead of praising their “solidarity move” he was so livid he could barely come up with words to say. The way my son described it reminded me of a cricket insanely jumping around in a glass jar. He finally called the whole Corps into formation.
He questioned them in front of everybody, and then he questioned my son. The answer he got from my son was “I’m not competing between sections inside my own Corps. Solidarity isn’t about that. I’m a part of my whole Corps not just my section. The shaved head isn’t going to make our section look unified to the judges. It will only make the whole Corp look stupid.” They didn’t win their competition that day and the strangely shaved heads had everything to do with it. It “shaved” points off their all-over score.
The director came to me immediately after the competition to say how proud he was of my son for not going along with such a stupid act. The other kids also came an apologized to me for what they’d put my son through. They said that they realized that he wasn’t trying to make them look bad, they had done a good job of that all by themselves and they hurt the whole Corps.
I asked my son how he felt about it and he said he wasn’t sure. In some ways he wished he’d done it and took the punishment with the others, but he knew he did what was right. Even if the Corps didn’t win.
The section leader, an adult, was not rehired for the next season.
A few spoiled kids make “childhood” look bad (underprivileged) for the many.
Have you checked into the Wii games where it requires physical activity for the kids? The games are fun and innocent.
“God bless Jennifer Tesh and parents like her who stand up against what is wrong, who swim against the tide that is flowing to the immoral swamp. ”
Indeed. “Any dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” – G.K. Chesterton, “The Everlasting Man,” 1925
What I find most amusing of all – not just the article, but especially these replies – is the very fact kids that young are being encouraged to be cheerleaders. And nobody picked up on this irony. LOL. Talk about real confusion.
The ‘role’ of cheerleader, by it’s origin, has a sexualized element to it: it’s to look “hot” and “show off your stuff” to the audience. And if anyone thinks it’s ‘only gymnastics’, they’re sadly mistaken.
When “activities” like cheerleading are opened up to younger and younger kids, that merely teaches them they are a younger version of the actual “grown up” activity. They want to be a cheerleader because their older sister or the movies show this is “the cool thing to do”. And this goes hand in hand with our culture’s constant pressure for kids to date younger and younger such that from their earliest grade levels they have ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ in mind. This type of indoctrination is all throughout even Disney Channel.
The *EXACT* same logic applies to “parents” (including “conservatives” and Catholics) who dress their young daughters in bikinis because “well, that’s the latest fashion.” ANYTIME a parent gets on the “latest fashion” for their kids bandwagon, they’ve fallen prey to materialism (and planted this in their child’s mind) as well as put themself on the road to following the culture in whatever downward direction they are taking it.
People need to get the right glasses on instead of re-adjusting an incorrect prescription.
You perhaps missed where I said that my daughter will never be a cheerleader.
Anyone wanting to underestand the cultural forces pushing on the sexualization of children should read the books by Judith Reisman,
I just finish reading
Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences.
It is a terrific and terrifying book.
That’s a pretty old marching rhyme, in a lot of areas. The way I heard it was:
Left, right, left.
My back ache, my hip too tight,
My hips shake from left to right.
Left, right, left.
So it’s probably something from the military, with very little to do with little girls being sexy or not.
It occurs to me that it was probably “my pack too tight”, originally.
While I agree with the concept that young children are being pushed too hard toward inappropriate “sexualization” I would also like to draw attention to something else important which seems to be removed in the process. Growth is a process which proceeds in stages. Between the age when so many children are pushed to act like sexual beings of 19+ years there are many essential & non-sexual growing experiences that they need. The earlier (pretend) sexuality that they’re experiencing is bound to dilute or remove these much needed life lessons. What will happen when sex loses its “new and shiny” aspect and they need to fall back on the missed lessons of art, culture, communication, etcetera which could have broadened their lives after short term gratification goes drab & dull?
All the likely answers which come to mind send chills through me.
They’re being ripped off by being deprived of an essential piece of their childhood!
An article about high-school cheerleaders complaining that their uniforms are too skimpy.
I have to say “this has been going on for years” is an incredible understatement. My daughter is now 38 years old and is the mother of a teenager, but when she was five I enrolled her in a mixed-dance program. They were supposed to learn some basic tumbling, tap, and ballet moves, and at the end of each semester put on a little performance for the parents. Like this mother in the news article, I was horribly appalled (more than 30 years ago) that these pre-schoolers in leotards were taught to turn their backsides to the audience (their parents) and bend slightly forward to wiggle their butts, with their hands flapping along side emphasizing the area, while singing a song the lyrics of which were something about bunnies wiggling their noses. WHY, FOR GOD’S SAKE DO THEY HAVE TO SEXUALLY WAG THEIR BUTTS WHEN THE SONG SAYS NOSES?
FIVE YEAR OLD GIRLS !! So I reamed the teachers out quite badly, and of course got no support whatsoever from other parents who had just seen their own daughters do sexual strip-tease type moves with adult men in the audience. I was appalled again at their lack of concern. Since they refused to change the dance and have the kids actually wiggle their noses, or their faces, or their hands near their noses, or any such sensible thing, I yanked my kid out. If they were doing this to five-year-olds what unfathomable filth were they going to advance for the older kids?
She never got another dance class, unfortunately, because our financial fortunes changed quite soon after, but I have not regretted for one moment taking her out of that disgusting atmosphere that was trying to pollute and corrupt her mind irrevocably at such a young age.
She is now a physically modest, eminently sensible woman in law school, with 5 sons (so she is obviously not warped, not afraid of sex). She is married to a deeply religious man, a lawyer himself, and is raising a wonderful, fun-loving, hard-working family of little men.
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