Why the Concern About TSA Pat-downs for Children?

December 1st, 2010 by Dionna | 43 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Gentle Discipline Ideas, Successes, and Suggestions, Gentle/Positive Discipline, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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**Edited for update: I just got off the phone with a representative from the TSA Public Affairs Office. I have updated a few things based on what he told me, those items are in red**

Before the hoopla about the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) scanner v. pat-down procedures reached such a frenzy, I booked a December round trip flight for me, my 2 year old child, and my mother. Since hearing some of the horror stories about the scanners and pat-downs, I have been fretting about whether I would rather have Kieran undergo a scan or a pat-down.

Why am I concerned about either of these two security measures? Well, without going into the possible constitutional issues with scanners or extensive pat-downs,1 here are some of the most cited concerns about each alternative:


  1. Do the scans even work? The scanners are supposed to help Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) “detect both metallic and non-metallic items that may pose a threat to aviation security.”2 To get an idea of how the technology works, you can read and watch more about it at the TSA website, Next Media Animation (video), or How Stuff Works.
    But is the technology even that effective? Maybe, maybe not. This video report from CNN vividly demonstrates the shortcomings of the Advanced Imaging Technology – it shows how a person could get a significant amount of PVT explosive through security, four times more than the “Underwear Bomber” had hidden. CNN explains that the scanners are only good at detecting sharp edges and/or mass. But there is always a human element involved, too.
  2. Is there a radiation hazard? There are many people uncomfortable with the idea of exposing themselves and their children to the radiation present in the scanners. Medical researchers have demonstrated that the effects of radiation exposure is cumulative over time, and too much radiation can cause cancer.3 TSA officials and radiation experts reassure travelers that the radiation exposure is minimal, amounting to even less than some other everyday exposures. For example, one expert says that you are exposed to more radiation by standing in New York City’s Grand Central Station for an hour.4 But not everyone is as sure as the TSA, including at least one molecular biologist.
  3. Can the scanned images be recorded and/or distributed? The TSA’s official position on whether images can be recorded is that “Advanced imaging technology cannot store, print, transmit or save the image, and the image is automatically deleted from the system after it is cleared by the remotely located security officer.” Of course images can be reproduced by cameras, video cameras, cell phone cameras, etc. – but TSA policy does not allow TSOs to carry any kind of recording equipment during working hours.5 However, the scanners can be put in “test mode,” which does allow images to be stored, exported and printed.6
    The question of whether TSOs are always honest – never carrying recording equipment or switching a scanner to test mode – is what makes people uncomfortable.7 And what makes parents particularly uncomfortable is that the images produced by scanners are too close to “naked” pictures and could arguably be used to make child pornography.8
  4. Can a young child stand still for the required scan time? To be scanned with the new technology, travelers must stand still for approximately five seconds with arms raised above their shoulders. This raises concerns for parents of very young (or very reserved/shy) children, as well as for passengers with disabilities. Scanners and pat-downs are supposed to be choices given to every passenger – but young children may not have the ability to make that choice. If your child is unable to hold still long enough (and in the correct position) to be scanned, he or she will receive a pat-down.9
    How is that giving children (or the disabled) a choice?


  1. Why won’t the TSA tell parents what the exact pat-down policy for children under 12 years is? The TSA website says: “Transportation Security Officers will work with parents to resolve any alarms at the checkpoint. If required, a child may receive a modified pat-down. Parents are encouraged to ensure their children have taken all items out of their pockets as they go through the security checkpoint.” But when one news station asked for clarification about the “modified” pat-down, and more specifically, whether TSOs are allowed to touch the genitals of children, Jon Allen with the TSA replied, “I can’t discuss specifics of a security procedure such as a pat down.”10
    The TSA Public Affairs representative explained that the TSA cannot disclose details of the modified pat-downs for security reasons. He did say that at this time, the procedure for whether passengers (including children) go through metal detectors and/or scanners is not consistent. It depends on how many AIT scanners the airport has and the traffic flow. You may never see a scanner, you may see one but only walk through a metal detector, you may be asked to go through a scanner as a routine matter.
    If you have a child that is not yet walking and you are traveling without a companion, you will not be required to put your child down. You and your child will receive a hand inspection that is not nearly as invasive as a pat-down.
    If you are concerned about going through security with your child, you might try contacting the TSA office for the airports you will be flying out of (my suggestion, not the TSA representative’s).
    It appears that even modified pat-downs may include TSOs running the back of their hands across children’s genitals, but a TSA Public Affairs representative would not confirm or deny this assertion.11 No parents should be forced to let a stranger touch their child’s genitals, especially without full information.
  2. Why are TSOs (who are regularly touching adults’ and children’s genitals) allowed to hold a position of trust without submitting to a more rigorous criminal background check? I am not the authority on the hiring process of TSOs, but I’ve done a fair amount of research.
    These are the key qualifications for a TSO: “a) Must be a US Citizen or US National; be 18 years old at time of application b) Be proficient in English; have customer service skills; c) Dependable & operate with integrity; repeatedly lift/carry up to 70 pounds; d) Maintain focus & awareness within a stressful environment; e) Meet job-related medical standards and pass background investigation.
    TSOs must have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent OR have worked at least one year full-time in security work, aviation screener work, or X-ray technician work.”12
    Candidates for a TSO position are not required to report whether they have been convicted of or have received diversions for felonies more than ten years before applying for the TSA, or any misdemeanors or diversions (whether the misdemeanor was received 6 months, 6 years, or 60 years previously). What’s frightening about this specifically is that candidates are NEVER REQUIRED to report misdemeanors, felonies older than ten years, or diversions received for sexual misconduct, including misconduct with a minor.13
    I have not found any documentation regarding psychological testing for TSOs, nor any kind of interview questions related to sexual misconduct. And even the felonies that are screened for aren’t enough to prevent criminal activity by TSOs, so why should we expect the current background checks to weed out criminal activity that is never investigated?14
  3. Why should parents normalize the touching of a child’s genitals for any stranger who is not in a medical position? I’ve read suggestions about “role playing” or “playing pretend” with children to “get them ready for a pat-down.”15 But why would I play pretend to help my child believe that a random stranger touching his genitals should be normal? My role as a parent is not to encourage my child to allow strangers to touch their private parts.
    Some people might compare TSOs to doctors – the only other accepted adult (besides parents) in a child’s life who might have reason to touch the child’s genitals. But the analogy is weak.
    Doctors go through extensive background checks (including misdemeanors and other charges). TSOs do not.
    Doctors have extensive training in both human anatomy, as well as on how to deal with children. TSOs do not.
    Doctors touch children in order to diagnose and treat, to keep healthy. TSOs touch children to rule out terrorist behavior. Even adults feel guilty of wrongdoing when undergoing pat-downs (when no wrongdoing has occurred).
  4. What about those children who are simply scared of or uncomfortable with adults touching them anywhere, much less in their private parts? My child is a sensitive child. He does not want anyone to touch him without his consent – and I respect his desires in this area. I don’t force him to kiss grandma when he doesn’t want to. I don’t chide him for not shaking someone’s hand. I don’t tsk tsk him for burying his face in my shoulder when an adult wants to give him five. So what happens if someone like my child can’t hold still for the scanner, but he refuses to allow a TSO to pat him down? That parent has to eat the cost of the plane tickets?16

What should you do if you feel that a TSO has violated your rights or the right of your child during a screening? Before leaving the screening area, politely ask to speak with the screener’s supervisor. Discuss the incident with the supervisor. (Make sure to build some extra time in when arriving at the airport with children – you may need it to help children get through security safely and with as little stress as possible.)
You may also call the TSA Office of Civil Rights anytime after an incident. The toll-free number is (866)289-9673.
And if you do not believe that the new security measures are appropriate, call and/or write your congresspeople today. Definitely call them if your rights are violated. We must follow through – make waves to make changes.
As far as fears of the $11,000 civil fine that the TSA is permitted to levy against passengers who start the screening process and opt out part of the way through, the TSA representative said that such a fine has never yet been given to someone. In a circumstance where a parent has to leave the airport because of a child who cannot handle either the scanner or the modified pat-down, the fine should not be a concern.

What have I missed in this list?

What are YOUR concerns with the scans and/or pat-downs with respect to your children?

If you HAVE to fly, which will you choose?17

Photo Credit: So Stadium Status

  1. See, e.g., Jeffrey Rosen, Why the TSA Pat-downs and Body Scans Are Unconstitutional, Washington Post, 11/28/2010
  2. TSA Frequently Asked Questions, Advanced Imaging Technology
  3. Cumulative Radiation Exposure From Imaging Scans Should Be Weighed Against The Benefits Say Researchers
  4. TSA Airport Scanners: Radiation Truths and Lies
  5. TSA Privacy: Advanced Imaging Technology
  6. The TSA Blog, Advanced Imaging Technology: Storing, Exporting and Printing of Images
  7. For more on why the general public is unnerved, see the Florida U.S. Marshal scandal and the response via the TSA Blog.
  8. Kittywampus: Are the TSA Body Scanners Creating Child Porn?. For the legal definition of what constitutes child pornography, see 18 U.S.C. § 2256. For a view from across the pond, see New Scanners Break Child Porn Laws.
  9. See Travelers Upset About Thorough Pat-Downs on Kids and Thanksgiving Travel Advice: Modified TSA Patdowns for Kids and Other Checkpoint Procedures
  10. TSA Responds to Complaints About Kids Being Patted Down at Airports
  11. See Travel Q&A: Helping Children Cope with New Airport Security Measures (“Even with children younger than 12, a screener will pass the back of his or her hand over the genital area.”) and Passengers Share TSA Horror Stories, Log Complaints Online. I emailed Ann Tatko-Peterson, the author of “Travel Q&A,” and asked her for her source for the above statement. She said that she got it directly from a TSA spokesperson and directed me to this TSA blog post. The TSA post does not mention anything about screeners touching children’s genitals. I spoke with a representative from the TSA Public Affairs office by phone on December 1. The information he shared with me on the record is included in this post in red.
  12. See any USAJobs TSO Job Announcement, here is one for Indiana. See also TSA Blog: What it Takes to Be a Transportation Security Officer
  13. See 18 U.S.C. § 2256 The TSA Public Affairs representative also sent me a TSA Human Resources document about the background check, it basically mirrors § 2256.
  14. See, e.g., this list of news headlines reporting on-the-job crimes by TSOs. By the way – I am not in any way trying to say that many/most/all TSOs are at risk of abusing their power in performing pat-downs on our children. I do think there is potential for misconduct, and I do not feel the TSA is doing enough to prevent it.
  15. How to Get Your Kids Through the TSA ‘Pat-down with Little Trauma
  16. Yes, I know. Most people would probably say “Yes! Those people are simply unable to fly! But I thought I’d cover this point anyway.
  17. By the way, here is what we’ve decided to do (as of this minute): we’re practicing the “statue game” with Kieran. He holds still with his arms above his head for the count of 10. We are doing this because I am more comfortable with the amount of radiation emitted by the new scanners than I am with a pat-down. We will practice this with him at home, at noisy restaurants, at stores – everywhere so that he can play the game in a variety of circumstances. We will also connect this with airport procedures, so he knows what to expect. If we DO need to get a pat-down, I am torn – part of me wants to request a private room, because I know Kieran will flip out if he has to be touched. But I’d also like to have the security cameras rolling on us and plenty of witnesses available, so perhaps we will just stay right there. Supposedly, TSA policy is that I will never be separated from Kieran. If they try to take him out of my sight, I will follow them. I refuse to be separated from my child. If anything strange or against written policy happens, I will call the TSA Office of Civil Rights: (571)227-1917 or (866)289-9673.

43 Responses to:
"Why the Concern About TSA Pat-downs for Children?"

  1. Lesley Carter

    Thank you for this! It is inevitable that we will be visiting my husband’s family overseas soon. I have avoided this trip because of my concern about traveling with my 3-year-old. I plan to start practicing your statue game today! What a great idea! I agree that I would rather have my son scanned rather than patted.

  2. Amy   anktangle

    Thank you for doing all this research and writing such an informative post! I had been wondering about the background checks done on TSOs, and now I know–although I’m not reassured, as I had hoped to be.

    I am flying with Daniel (but without my husband) in a few weeks. I was pretty nervous about flying with him for the first time, even before all of this new security stuff came out. My main concern, since he’s not big enough to even stand, is what I will do with him if I have to be scanned or patted down. I will not have a stroller or car seat with me for him to sit in, and I won’t have any family members to hand him to, either.

    I think I will opt for the pat-down, but both options make me very nervous, as does taking breastmilk through the security checkpoint on the way back.

    I’m interested to read what others have to say about all this!

  3. the grumbles   thegrumbles

    this does not specifically apply to children, but did you hear about the TSA agent in Colorado caught masturbating to the images from the scanner? you can read the article here.

    i have concerns about the radiation, concerns about the naked images, concerns about being separated from my child, AND concerns about the too-close-for-comfort pat downs. but i don’t have any solutions so it looks like i won’t be flying any time soon, and especially not with the jude.

  4. Olivia

    If for any reason you are unable or unwilling to complete the security check you not only will eat the price of the tickets. You also may face a fine of $11,000.

    This whole situation sucks, and I’m not sure what I will be doing in the future.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      A fine if your child can’t make it through?? Can you tell me where you found that Olivia?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Olivia – I talked to the TSA rep about the fine – read that last edit (in the main text) in red. The fine should not be a concern in the situation we are discussing.

      • Olivia

        That’s a relief. I had just seen a report that the TSA warned about the fines before the holiday and the “Don’t touch my junk” guy was being fined for not completing the screen.

  5. Rachael   RachaelNevins

    My questions: Are we going to have to live with this for the rest of our lives? And where is it going to stop? Is the ACLU on this, or anyone else? To whom should I be addressing my concerns? Dionna, I think you called your representatives, yes?

    Thanks for all of this information.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thanks for the reminder Rachael – I just added something about writing congresspeopke, and yes, I wrote to all of mine.
      There have been various lawsuits about searches – courts are already restricting some of the activities that screeners have been doing (i.e., screening for crimes that aren’t related to air travel).

  6. Thank you for this! My husband and I have decided that we won’t be flying as a family until these procedures are changed.

  7. Monty Mitchell

    Ok, I am going to be the bad guy here. 1st I dont agree with the type of people that could get hired (agree with you sis), better inforcement of Hiring practices.
    Until there are no terrorist than this type of inspection will continue to keep America and Americans safe.
    I am in the Army and have been to Iraq twice and have seen the damage of what explosives do to humans and this is just enough to fill a toothpaste tube. (Look at my facebook pics)
    TERRORIST DO NOT CARE ABOUT CHILDREN THEY HAVE USED CHILDREN TO KILL this is a practice that they use and will continue to use because we (Americans) get comfortable to not inspect children and the next thing is a child laden with explosives in his dinasour toy and boom.
    I am sorry to be so graphic on this, you now know what TERRORIST will go through to kill AMERICANS.
    I do agree to change who is allowed to do searches and what kind of background checks that they need to go through.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I understand where you’re coming from. I would, however, be interested in finding out if there are statistics on what kind of terrorist activities have been thwarted by TSO screeners, maybe the percentage of terrorist attempts stopped at airports versus those stopped by intelligence that hits beforehand. I just can’t remember hearing about anything, and it would be too bad if the media failed to pick those stories up, so that we could all see the necessity of these measures (or some kind of measures, maybe not these).

    • Carol LeaningLactivist   lactivistleans

      No TSA screener has caught a terrorist attempting to blow up a plane. Both Richard Reid (shoe bomber) and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (diaper bomber) were stopped by the passengers on the planes they boarded.

      These “enhanced searches” do not keep us safer from terrorists. That is a BIG part of the problem with instituting them. A terrorist can easy get past an enhanced search by secreting their weapon of choice in a body cavity and unless the TSA is going to make a rectal and vaginal cavity search a requirement for flying (which I do NOT advocate) these “enhanced searches” leave a huge loophole for a terrorists to exploit.

      Dionna – Thank you for doing so much work on this. Focusing on the pat-downs – I do have to tell you that as a parent I am not soothed by the TSAs assertion that they cannot tell me how they will be invading my child’s bodily autonomy/sexually assaulting them for security reasons. Asking parents to make decisions without all relevant information is absurd and it’s disheartening to me that so many people appear to have a hard time understanding this in their official capacities.

  8. Monty Mitchell

    You will not here about all the thwarting of terrorist acts that have happened, the reason is if we tell you then the terrorist get smarter and improve there tactics just as they do. Yes pat downs do work, it makes them think before that happens, yes there have been some type of act that has made it on the plane (glad they didnt work or failed).
    I want everyone to know that I cannot change some of your minds of what is done for your security no matter what I say. The only thing I can say is this is going to be a catch 22, If something happens with security then they didnt do enough, if something does not happen then they did to much and it was not neccessary. It is your decision to do what you must and to say what you say, That is why I will continue to fight for those freedoms on someone elses Land. God bless America.

  9. Amber   AmberStrocel

    I am Canadian. At this point, I can’t see flying into (or, more specifically, out of) the US with my children. It’s one thing for me, it’s quite another for them, and I fortunately am in the position where I can fly without having to deal with the TSA at all. We do have a transportation safety organization in Canada, but they are not the same, and they don’t do the same types of patdowns that I’m aware of.

  10. Ruth

    I must agree with Monty on this…although I certainly do understand the unease and frustration that parents are going through because of this new procedure. ( I am the Grandma flying to NM with Dionna and Kieran!). I am concerned about how Kieran will do with the security clearance…and I wish there was a way to avoid it altogether but unfortunately the only way to avoid it is to avoid flying.
    I think the reason that we don’t hear about the terrorists that are thwarted because of the security screenings is because we don’t want to let other terrorists or would-be terrorists know everything that we are doing to stop them. That is the same reason that they won’t make it public knowledge HOW they do a pat down…why tip off the terrorists as to what they need to be ready to circumvent?
    I also agree that there needs to be more rigorous screening for the employees…and I think that is one thing that could be very easily rectified by the government agency that oversees them.
    It is a sad thing that the world we live in today is such that it requires these type of safety measures…but I would much rather go through the indignity of a screening or a pat down than end up sitting on a plane with a terrorist who wanted to blow me out of the sky.

    • CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

      I think the reason that we don’t hear about the terrorists that are thwarted because of the security screenings is because we don’t want to let other terrorists or would-be terrorists know everything that we are doing to stop them. That is the same reason that they won’t make it public knowledge HOW they do a pat down…why tip off the terrorists as to what they need to be ready to circumvent?

      I just have to point this out – a pat-down is not rocket science. They’re going to be feeling for hard spots or weird bulges.

      Prior to flying, a terrorist could easily “research” the pat-down procedure by keeping some spare change in his pocket on purpose so it would force a pat-down… this would give them first-hand observation of what the “techniques” are…

      (ooo laa laa – I think you missed a spot…)

      • monty mitchell

        Tom you are right a pat down is not rocket science, its a deturent, trust me I do these in Iraq we even use the metal detecting wands. We are trained on observations and detection. The TSA the US Military and other Government agencies are trained on what and how to look. Dont think that they pat to pat and try and feel you or your children up.

  11. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    I just can’t see the TSA NOT telling us about terrorists they’ve caught. Especially after the public is calling for their collective head on a platter.
    “The aforementioned “behavioral detection program,” also known as SPOT (Screening of Passengers by Observational Techniques), has been one of the TSA’s most roundly criticized initiatives. In May, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting that SPOT’s annual cost is more than $200 million and that as of March 2010 some 3,000 behavior detection officers were deployed at 161 airports but had not apprehended a single terrorist.”

  12. Monty Mitchell

    well no one thought the Maj Naddal Hassan was a terrorist as well. The word terrorist is a broad word, I protect this country from foriegn and DOMESTIC. No one is going to release any type of numbers that they apprehended any terrorist, here is an example we are the only county to list our dead during war, we do not list theirs. Dionna and all others you are drawing more attention to yourselves during a time in our Country by calling and writting about how distasteful that type of search is. THIS IS WHAT THE TERRORIST WANT YOU TO DO, make them stop so they can KILL. I dont know anyother way to tell you this.
    Graphic: In Iraq during my tour 06-08 a man and women pulled up to one of our check points with children in the back seat, 3 years and 8 years old, when the vehicle was called into the search area the supposed parents got out and in a place where they were safe, kaboom. 3 Soldiers died, 5 Iraqi Soldiers died, 15 enemy tried to come in the Green Zone. YOU DID NOT HEAR THAT ON THE NEWS, 2 children died (they were abducted). They will use what ever tactic they can to try and win, the way they win is by making us change the way we live our lives IF we can catch them before or even make them think that they have no chance of even trying to do something then WE have won, if that is doing a screening and pat down than I will stand behind them doing it.
    This is why you do not hear about terrorist almost getting by, the ones that got by and failed you will because 200 passengers saw it, there is no denial.
    Ladies I am not trying to scare you in thinking everyone is out to get you or your child, I am trying to educate you in the tactics that we are trying to keep terrorist to not kill you. Just think of the worst and they have thought of more than that.

    • Monty Mitchell

      They just dont try and kill us as well they are trying to kill our economy. Dont fly and put people out of work, lots of people.

    • Carol LeaningLactivist   lactivistleans

      Monty, Trampling my civil liberties and treating ME and and the other 99.9% of travelers around me like they are criminals in a misguided and, frankly in this case, INEFFECTIVE and easily circumvented effort to prevent terrorism SHOULD be part of the public dialog. If this were not such a gross invasion of my privacy and were an effective effort I would have a very different position on the issue.

      I will not live in fear, give up my rights or “just shut up already” about topics of this magnitude because there are people who believe that my participation in this discussion is helping the bad guys win. Were I to step away from this discussion I would be allowing myself to be silenced and that isn’t happening.

      Finally, yes you darn well were making an emotional appeal designed to scare us silent so you need to own that.

      • monty mitchell

        “Finally, yes you darn well were making an emotional appeal designed to scare us silent so you need to own that” Carol no I was trying to educate in how far the Terrorist will go to try and succeed. Terrorist just do not wear turbins and speak arabic, the Number one terrorist on the FBI, CIA, US Military wanted list is an American living in Pakistan.
        Carol tell the 3000 plus families from Sept 11 2001 that this is too much.
        I will be the last one on earth to tell YOU TO SHUT UP.

  13. Olivia   OliviaStreaterL

    Hi Dionna – thanks for doing this research and well done for being a campaigning Mumma! In Europe our procedures are not so strict as yet but I will be straight on to Liberty, who I used to work for (our ACLU equivalent in the UK, only much much smaller and without the same resources!) to challenge procedures!

  14. I think we get the need for the security measures but the way its carried out is the problem. TSAs should have the correct criminal checks before touching anyone, most especially a child.
    It does occur to me though that the USA is not the only country that is suffering from terrorist threats. The UK has quite strict airport security but does not have these scanners/pat downs. Israel has probably suffered the most in terrorist activities over recent years. I wonder what the measures in Israel are?

    • Ruth

      Israel does it a much more effective way…they have “observers” who are especially trained in body language and actions that would indicate that someone needs to be watched closely. Each patron is given a “code” and certain ones are to be pulled aside for individual searches. Of course that might lead to what some would call “profiling”…but you can “profile” for “terrorists” instead of “Muslims” or a certain nationality.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        See this is the problem mom, in one post you say that you are ok with the more intrusive measures we have now, but here you say that Israel’s security is “more effective” AND less invasive?
        So what’s wrong with demanding that we have less invasive security measures? Why lay down and accept a flawed system? (And I’m not picking on YOU specifically, this seems to be a pervasive thought around the country right now.)

        That is not what the U.S. is supposed to be about. We aren’t supposed to just give up civil liberties because that’s what happens to be the most craptastic thing the TSA could come up with at the time.

        Wise words from Benjamin Franklin: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

      • Ruth

        Dionna…I am not telling you that I agree with the invasive pat downs but I am telling you that I feel like we have to do SOMETHING to try and assure our safety. Why can’t our government be working on the method that the Israelis use and replace this method with it when the people are trained and it is ready to run? BUT they can’t just let security go in the meantime.

  15. I had a feeling Israel used a more ‘user friendly’ system. What a shame that the USA hasn’t tried harder to learn from the countries that are more experienced with dealing with terrorism.

  16. Shannon   The_ArtsyMama

    I took my then 5 month old on an airplane in August, he set off the metal detector because I had foolishly dressed him in overalls with metal attachments. He received a pat down then. I was humiliated because they wouldn’t listen that it was the shoulder straps and I had to hold him up while someone felt around his body. They questioned me again because he was wearing a bulky cloth diaper at the time too. I just felt awful but I said to myself at least he won’t remember this. Well now with these new regulations and the fact I fly at least 3 times a year to visit family I’m seriously considering taking a train or just driving because I myself don’t want to be scanned or pat down or have my milk inspected and let my child have to go through this either. They tell us we have a choice but make it two very uncomfortable options which in my opinion is not an option.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Shannon – would you mind sharing what they did about the diaper? Did they pat around it? I’ve been curious about what they would do for diapers (esp. cloth).

  17. CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa


    a snippet from this article:

    …An expert in the fight against child sexual abuse is raising the alarm about a technique the TSA is reportedly using to get children to co-operate with airport pat-downs: calling it a “game”…telling a child that they are engaging in a game is “one of the most common ways” that sexual predators use to convince children to engage in inappropriate contact…

    I get what Monty is saying, but I have to point out that no terrorist was ever caught at the security checkpoint. If one had, it would be advertised, or word would leak online and the news would pick it up. No way it stays a secret.

    My opinions on why we don’t have security like Tel Aviv, Israel:
    1. Would require forethought on the BEST way to solve the issue vs. “what quick-fix technology can we buy that may or may not work when we need it to?”
    2. Would require actually training the (likely underpaid) TSA workers, who may or may not be able to actually conduct behavioral observations.

    What happens when someone hides something in a body cavity and attempts to blow up a plane – will we all start getting body cavity searches then? Why wouldn’t it lead to that – we’re already allowing our toddlers and older children to be felt up in the name of “security”.

    Also, regarding my son’s genitals – what exactly are the TSO’s hoping to discover, a stick of dynamite in my kid’s shorts? It will NEVER be that obvious – this is only going to lead to some kid getting strip searched some day – mark my words, IT WILL HAPPEN – these things always run downhill. One violation of liberty will lead to another, and so on…

    • Mema

      I completely agree and I that has been my thought sense this all started, HOW FAR will it go and I agree that body cavity searches may not be far away at this rate….it’s ridiculousness to think that they are going to “catch” something by checking a child’s crotch for explosives or underneath a woman’s breasts fro crying out loud! I know many women have large breasts but what they hell do they think we are going to PUT UNDER THERE?!?! Or a child’s penis? Are they going to tear into all of the wet saggy disposable diapers and test those for explosives?

      Also think about this…they confiscate all of your liquids that they won’t allow to go on the airplane for fear it could be an explosive, what do they do with it? They toss it all in bins, and then sort it. And then I’m guessing throw it away or who knows what. If someone wanted to injure people, it would be smart to just toss the explosive materials in your bag, they will simply confiscate it, toss it in a bin, you go about your way on your flight and BOOM…would they even know who they confiscated it from? Ok so maybe you need a detonation device or for it to mix with another chemical, but it’s still plausible.

      also “As far as fears of the $11,000 civil fine that the TSA is permitted to levy against passengers who start the screening process and opt out part of the way through, the TSA representative said that such a fine has never yet been given to someone. In a circumstance where a parent has to leave the airport because of a child who cannot handle either the scanner or the modified pat-down, the fine should not be a concern.”

      so it sounds like they are CONFIRMING that you CAN be fined, he never said you COULDN’T be fined only that no one HAS yet been fined, that we KNOW OF. And then I’m sure they will put some sort of “gag order” on them not to speak of it.

    • monty mitchell

      “Also, regarding my son’s genitals – what exactly are the TSO’s hoping to discover, a stick of dynamite in my kid’s shorts? It will NEVER be that obvious”
      Dionna your right it wont be that obvious it will be very elaberate. Look I cant tell you all of what I know then Id have to kill you, HAHAHA lol.

  18. monty mitchell

    Let me ask all of you a question, How many TSA agents are Parents and grandparents? DO you think they get a kick out of doing this? I think they are doing the job that has been prescribed by the Federal Government and the Transportation Authorities. If it makes it safer than I am for it.
    by the way as I head to Iraq each and everytime we in uniform go throught the same thing.

  19. Stephanie B. Cornais   mamaandbabylove

    Thanks for posting the TSA civil rights number. Did you hear about the lady who was forced to screen her breast milk and then had to pour it out into TSA germy, containers for “inspection”?
    I’d like to have numbers like that handy, in case TSA give me the same trouble while traveling with my pump and breast milk.

  20. Kate

    I’m turning 30 next month and my mother really wants to take me and my son on a trip (she offered to watch our son while my husband and I took a trip but he won’t take the time off work). As much as I’d like to go I’ve been reluctant to agree to fly anywhere because of these new security measures. I know my (then) 20 month old won’t hold still for a scan and the idea of him being patted down just creeps me out. Add in the potential for him to pitch a fit and having to eat the cost of the tickets… I guess it will be the train or nothing.

  21. Amy   anktangle

    After writing here about my concerns about bringing breasmilk through the TSA checkpoint, the same thing happened to me that happened to Stacey Armato, the breastfeeding mother and attorney.

    TSA forced me to x-ray my breastmilk, denying my request for the alternate screening: http://www.anktangle.com/2011/01/tsa-x-rayed-my-breastmilk.html

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