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DEAR ABBY: Last summer, I cringed when I saw a neighbor cutting his lawn with a push mower and allowing his 3-year-old son to walk behind the mower to "help" him push. All the while, the mother stood nearby, smiling at the "father-and-son moment."

A few days later, I saw an 8-year-old boy cutting his lawn with a riding mower, with no adult in sight.

Abby, please remind parents that a lawn mower is a powerful, potentially dangerous machine. According to a study published in a children's medical journal, more than 9,000 children are injured by lawn mowers each year. Not only is there the obvious danger of the mower blades, children can also suffer severe burns from touching hot mower parts. In addition, projectiles can fly backward and cut or blind a child should a mower strike an object.

When the lawn mower is operating, the proper place for children is inside the house. -- CONCERNED NEIGHBOR, DUNWOODY, GA.

DEAR NEIGHBOR: Thank you for the timely reminder. Sometimes the most innocent of actions can have unintended consequences. Spring has sprung, bringing with it all the joys --and chores -- of the "growing" season. When a lawn mower is running, children -- and pets -- should not be in the vicinity.

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