New pat-down policy at airports for kids under 12 soon

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the government will be rolling out a different airport pat-down policy for children under 12 in the coming months. (The Transportation Security Administration later clarified stating it would be a matter of weeks.)

Speaking before a Senate hearing on Tuesday she announced that the change will occur but didn’t specify what the new policy will be.

She also said that these children will no longer have to take off their shoes to be screened.

From The Associated Press:

“Some travelers and privacy advocates have complained that children, who don’t appear to pose terror threats, are subject to intimate pat-downs that involve Transportation Security Administration screeners touching private areas. Children under 12 will also be spared the hassle of taking off their shoes as they go through check point security, Napolitano said.”

In another article on Boston.com, she said there could be exceptions:

“Napolitano said there may be some exceptions to keep airport security unpredictable. Terrorists have plotted to use children as suicide bombers, and some children still may be required to remove their shoes to keep security random.”

” ‘There will always be some unpredictability built into the system, and there will always be random checks even for groups that we are looking at differently, such as children,’ she said.”

They can make my kids take off their shoes all they want. (My kids think it’s funny.) What I don’t want is some man or woman feeling up my kids.

So I will be very interested to see what the new rules turn out to be and when they will get them into practice. It would nice if they could do it before Thanksgiving.

I was recalling the other day how Rose’s diaper was patted-down when we traveled to Colorado a few months after 9-11. I don’t think my kids have been searched since then.

What do you think the new standard should be for searching children getting onto planes? How can the government keep us safe without making our kids feel weird or invading their privacy?

48 comments Add your comment

[...] New pat-down policy at airports for kids under 12 soonAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)“Some travelers and privacy advocates have complained that children, who don't appear to pose terror threats, are subject to intimate pat-downs that involve Transportation Security Administration screeners touching private areas. …and more » [...]

catlady

September 14th, 2011
7:05 am

Oh, good grief! Theresa, do you think the TSA advertises for perverts? It’s a job. They don’t linger over it with their hands down their own pants!

mom2alex&max

September 14th, 2011
7:12 am

catlady that’s not the point. The point is that we have spent a lot of time teaching our young kids that NO ONE touches them in private areas except parents and the doctor. So now we have to teach them that some minimum wage airport worker can???

Ole Guy

September 14th, 2011
7:13 am

As with many issues, we tend to transfer our western values to the rest of the world…the world doesn’t necessarily recognize that which we often take for granted. 40-odd years ago, a young Viet Cong, old enough to remind me of my kid brother, was just as apt to incur harm upon others as his father. In more recent times, we see nations which seem to have no issue in assigning terrorist roles to young children, some dwarfted by the weapons they carry with intent to inflict harm upon others.

We, in this freedom-loving Country, place unquestioning innocence upon youth, often-times despite our (supposedly) better judgement. While it may be considered “the nice thing to do” in altering security measures for children, it may not be the wisest course of action, and just may offer an ever-vigilant “sleeper cell” an opportunity.

Let’s think about this one, TSA.

seabeau

September 14th, 2011
7:18 am

I don’t think that the government should be responsible for providing security for the airlines. We are expending huge sums of money for a minor percentage of our population who regulary fly. Israel uses profiling at to achieve the same goal at a much lower price. The flyers should bear the brunt of this cost ,not the taxpayers.

Chip

September 14th, 2011
7:21 am

We’ve spent billions of dollars on airport screening technology and yet we are still subject to invasive patdowns? I’ve said it a million times, if you want to find a needle in a haystack, a good first step would be to reduce the size of the haystack.

Somebody wake me up when the TSA actually thwarts a terrorist attack.

redhousecat

September 14th, 2011
7:22 am

here we go again. If your rugrat is confused by the patdown by a security official while parents watch, then you, as a parent, have done something wrong. Simply educate yourself and your children and let them know that it may happen, but only if a parent is around.

BUT, as far as airport security: PROFILING. It’s what works in the rest of the world.

Jeff

September 14th, 2011
8:03 am

The fact that we are trusting our security to these bafoons is a huge mistake. I travelled every week for 10 years and the huge majority of these idiots could care less about being professional. It’s a shame we don’t hold government workers to the same professional standard that we expect from private companies.

shaggy

September 14th, 2011
8:03 am

OK…don’t shriek in horror when the terrorists use an 10-11 year old shoe bomber to take out an airliner. Yes, that little shoe can be modified enough to carry enough plastic explosive to punch a hole in an airliner, (drug smugglers have been doing it for years) and the terrorists don’t care that its a child.
Actually we should use the Israeli method of racial profiling and careful, direct observation to make our airlines as safe as possible. When was the last Israeli airliner hijacking?

The terrorists just want to kill as many of us as they can.

We would deserve what we get, if we let our guard down…even a little.

Bella

September 14th, 2011
8:08 am

There are plenty of parents out there that make their kids a partner in their crimes (shoplifting is the best example). What makes you think a terrorist won’t take advantage of this new policy?

catlady

September 14th, 2011
8:18 am

As I said, I have no problem with EVERYBODY being patted down. Now, cavity searches are another thing. I agree that terrrorist could easily use a small child. I also agree that I will be standing right there–no one would take my child off and “secretly” search them. When that happens, I would do my best to tear through the walls! (And never fly again.)

motherjanegoose

September 14th, 2011
8:34 am

Forgive me if this is a dumb question…I am dead serious:

@seabeau: I don’t think that the government should be responsible for providing security for the airlines.

do the cruise lines and freighters protect the US waters as their ships come into port or is it our coast guard …hence gov’t. Do we all pay taxes for those who protect our waters, even when we do not live near them? Maybe I am missing something?

I will absolutely agree that many things our government gets in the middle of turn out to be a mess.

I agree with Jeff…many of the TSA agents I see are NOT professional. I am heading to the airport today! Some are great but not all.
I agree with catlady….I would not let my child be searched alone…I would be there with them.

JJ

September 14th, 2011
8:36 am

I hope I never have to fly again. I love a good road trip and would prefer to drive, but that’s just me. I love being in the car, and listening to MY music on my iPhone. I would have no problem driving cross country. I’ve done it several times already, moving from Colorado to Georgia, moving my parents to Salt Lake City, and then moving them back to Atlanta. We always drove on family vacations, except when we went to Hawaii. So it’s in my blood.

Peachy

September 14th, 2011
8:38 am

@seabeau – The people who were killed while working in the Towers were not flying, they were arriving at work. Ensuring airline safety also ensures the safety of those on the ground below those planes.

This seems like a slippery slope. Only checking some children means opening yourself up to the possibility of not checking the one who ahs been rigged up by his crazy parent.

In my oponion, the term “feeling up” should only be used by teenagers talking about getting lucky, not about government worker doing their job. I think its important to talk to your kids about the difference between good touch and bad touch. And let’s be honest a TSA person doesn’t really touch your “private parts” in a pat down, they skim over your legs, arms and torso.

Debbie

September 14th, 2011
8:42 am

The news this morning has a story about a drug smuggler being busted and telling that he had made some 65 trips and smuggled over 8000 oxycodone tabs from Florida to New England and that he says that he regularly bribed TSA agants to look the other way ( http://www.newsytype.com/11280-tsa-drug-smuggling/ ). This article also outlines the number of TSA agants that have been busted for stealing cash and property from passengers. These TSA ex-burger flipping clowns have NEVER caught a would be terrorist but we have spent a ton of money and wholesale surrendered our civil rights in the name of some smoke and mirrors feel good policies that are designed to make us feel secure. It is way past time to pull the plug on this entire failed fiasco and send the TSA dullards back to the minimum wage jobs they are barely qualified to handle.

motherjanegoose

September 14th, 2011
8:50 am

JJ…haha…different strokes for different folks. As most of you know, I fly regularly. It is a real hassle but it would take a lot of fast driving for me to get to Montana tonight and so I will fly. I also hate camping but that is just me. Lots of folks have to fly every week, for business, and that would make me crazy. I fly about 25 trips per year and that is PLENTY for me. Easier also to get to Hawaii on a plane and that is one place everyone should go to just once. I loved it but am not itching to go again as it is a LONG trip. Alaska is one my radar for a revisit…it is wonderful! You would certainly see a LOT of the country if you drove from ATL to Alaska. That would be a plus.

NikNak

September 14th, 2011
8:54 am

PRIVATIZE AIRPORT SECURITY! And while we’re at it…. privatize the mail and DMV as well. Maybe with a little competition, we will finally see some good service.

Debbie

September 14th, 2011
8:56 am

I did not make clear in my previous post that his drug haul with the help of the TSA was over 8000 oxycodone tabs on EACH TRIP of the 65+ trips he is admitting to.

Lady Strange

September 14th, 2011
9:03 am

@JJ – I’m with you! I love a good road trip and much rather drive than fly. I only fly when I have to.

Metro Coach

September 14th, 2011
9:08 am

Wasting tax dollars screening children and grandparents is one of the dumbest things in a long list of dumb things done in the name of political correctness. All Muslims may not be terrorists, but darn near every terrorist is a Muslim. Does anyone know how long its been since the Israelis’ had an incident on one of their planes or at their airports? A very long time, because they profile. They identify threats well in advance, and my guess is their aren’t many children or grannys on those lists. Young Middle Eastern men, with very few exceptions, are the ones who commit terrorist attacks, and they’re the ones who should be screened and patted down.

JOD

September 14th, 2011
9:15 am

I’m surprised at the turn this one has taken. I absolutely won’t take DD on a plane while the TSA is groping toddlers. We will drive cross-country this fall since we have a choice. I don’t like Sarah Palin, but ‘mama grizzly’ is exactly what I would be if some guy/gal who couldn’t hack it at McDonald’s but somehow became a TSA agent touches my kid.

Maybe I would feel differently if I thought the TSA and Homeland Security were doing the right things to keep us safe. Everyone who says we should emulate the Israelis is dead on – they do it better, faster, and cheaper. I’m pretty sure they would have kept the underwear bomber – who has described as very nervous, sweaty, shifty-eyed, and bought a one-way ticket with cash – off that plane.

mom2alex&max

September 14th, 2011
9:36 am

Debbie: my issue exactly. Those TSA workers are the biggest joke. When I think about those people being the first line of defense against terrorism, I cringe. They are undereducated, poorly trained, have bad attitudes and they abuse the little perceived power that they were given. Of course they accept bribes. Like that surprises anyone. Just look at them for pete’s sake.

JOD: dead on. I’m not flying and neither are my kids as long as that BS still goes on. I have heard about the Israeli’s methods everywhere and I think that’s exactly how the US show do it. No one in their right mind could possibly think that TSA is keeping us safe. It’s a joke.

mom2alex&max

September 14th, 2011
9:39 am

Metro Coach: I looked it up. Terrorists haven’t penetrated Ben Gurion International Airport’s security since 1972. They know what they are doing.

JOD

September 14th, 2011
9:58 am

@mom2alex&max – 1972? Sheesh, maybe we should outsource.

There has got to be a private company who can do this better than our government, or at least without irradiating and molesting the average citizen.

Should we even go into people having their surgical scars palpated (which is both shaming and painful), or the elderly/infirm having their adult diapers and colostomy bags searched? The TSA makes me sick.

JOD

September 14th, 2011
9:59 am

Sorry for the ferocity…this topic rings my bell…

Sylvania

September 14th, 2011
10:09 am

Sorry folks, but the TSA policies are not dumb or politically incorrect. Their job is to make sure every human being and bag passing thru the security checkpoint is clear of anything that might endanger anyone on a plane. Their goal is to be right 100% of the time, not 90% or even 99.9%. Their procedures apply to every person, regardless of age. If you don’t like it, don’t fly.

And no, Theresa and JOD, nobody is groped. Talk about ignorance. Here’s the deal. When checkpoint personnel tell you, ad nauseam, long before you get to the screening device, to take everything out of your pockets, they mean it. So if your little spoiled brat needs a pat-down, it’s because YOU, as the child’s parent, didn’t follow simple instructions. It’s better that people like you two and your screaming monsters don’t fly, anyway. You just muck up the system for those of us who understand why these procedures are necessary, and know how to follow them. So JOD, you and little DD have at it on your 5-day cross-country drive this fall. As for me, I’ll be there in 3 hours by plane.

As for profiling, the shoe-bomber Richard Reid is from Great Britain. So much for that idea.

Finally, a voice of reason...

September 14th, 2011
10:32 am

…from Sylvania – and why are my comments getting censored and banished into cyberspace – I hav enot writtn anything nasty or censorable…

Scooby

September 14th, 2011
10:36 am

@Sylvania – well said.

Augusta

September 14th, 2011
10:39 am

@Sylvania – it may be their JOB, but they don’t do it very well….I’ve seen those TSA people. They would rather talk to Shaquandria about her weave, then to look at what’s right under their noses, at the xray machine…….

And why so nasty? Good lord do you not have children? And if you don’t, may I be the first to say THANK YOU!!!

JJ

September 14th, 2011
10:40 am

I’ve read numerous articles where children have been groped. I hardly doubt it’s because of their ignorant parents.

A voice of reason...

September 14th, 2011
10:40 am

This is just another one of Theresa’s phobias, and mom2alex&max and JOD are just as paranoid…

not everyone gets patted down unless they set off the screening alarm, or are randomly selected by a code on their boarding card – just leave out any metal and they will be fine.

I have two artificial joints so I get “searched” EVERY time I go to the airport, and not one time has anyone touched me inappropriately in oave 12 years of searches (even prior to 9/11/01 I was searched due to metal in my knees)- plus, at most airports today you can opt to go through the body scanner which does not involve any touching, unless of course, they see something suspicious in that screenign device – I got searched one time after going through the scanner – when I asked why they said because I had not taken the dollar bills out of my pocket (I had to show them they were not dangerous), so those machines are pretty sensitive…

Exactly what ...

September 14th, 2011
10:45 am

…constitutes groping? I have had artificial joints for over 13 years and was patted down pre – 9/11/01 and post 9/11/01, and I still have not been “groped” (close, but nothing I could not handle or feel uncomfortable about, and each time the screener explained what he was going to do). Plus, at most airports today you can opt out of the touching and go through the body scanner where nobody touches you…

This is just paranoia at its worst and T, JOB and mom2alex&max are exhibits 1, 1A, and 1AA…

jarvis

September 14th, 2011
11:09 am

Who would ever think that a person taking their job as seriously as this would ever violate another person.
http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/tsa-employee-pulls-prank-college-student/story?id=9635647

shaggy

September 14th, 2011
11:10 am

Yes, just what constitutes groping a kid? Is it just because it’s a kid that you don’t want touched at all…which would be a normal protective parent response.
Would you change your tune, if the next airline taken down, was done using a child?

Also, there is plenty of historical reference for children being used to deliver explosive, or otherwise destructive devices. Just ask a Vietnam vet that was in the bush, if they liked having native kids approach them, their company, or equipment. The cute native kids did occasionally deliver destruction to our boys.

JOD

September 14th, 2011
11:18 am

@sylvania – What rock do you live under? I have personally seen people being groped while at the airport. Google it if you don’t believe it, and watch the videos for yourself. The TSA removes diapers of children and adults, touches people’s surgical scars, and touch people with the front of their hands, some while not wearing gloves. Please look up the definite of grope if necessary.

I suspect you are a TSA agent, partially because of your extreme defensiveness and partially by your poor command of the English language. If you read the posts, you would know that I and others have chosen not to fly. My child is not a screaming brat, but I suppose you think all children are ‘little monsters’, regardless of how they act.

I would feel sorry for you for your obvious bitterness, but it’s really not worth my time.

@Exactly what – If you feel like this is the best our country has to offer, then you fly. Me, I like my civil liberties.

JOD

September 14th, 2011
11:23 am

I committed a faux pas in my irritation…the word is definition.

Hey, JOD... ...

September 14th, 2011
12:25 pm

…since your “civil liberties” are being so violated, you obviously are liberal, so how is that hope and change thingy working out for you and yours since the last election?

And, nobody said that this is the best this our country can do, but with all the pansy liberals such as yourself and T & mom2, the U.S. cannot use the Israelie method of “profiling” since someone’s feelings and civil liberties might be hurt…

Finally, as I said previously, in my 13+ years of flying that requires me to be searched each and every time I fly, I have yet to be “groped” by anyone, patted down and hands run up and down my entire body, yes, groped, no..

“grope” definition:To reach about uncertainly; feel one’s way: groped for the telephone. 2. To search blindly or uncertainly:

As such, seems to me YOU do not know the definition of grope since the TSA is not reaching uncertainly, blindly, or feeling their way uncertainly…

mom2alex&max

September 14th, 2011
12:57 pm

To “Hey…” I am a liberal, but I am VERY much FOR profiling. And you would have known that if you had actually read my posts.

There is NO need for touching or radiating people in airports. We all know who the attackers are. And there’s no bomb in grandma’s diaper or liquid explosives in mom’s breast milk. And those incidents happened. Whether Sylvania wants to believe it or not.

JOD

September 14th, 2011
12:59 pm

Wow, the nasties are out today. I felt sullied by the child haters from earlier so I took cookies to my daughter’s class. The joy of making a child smile…

@Hey, JOD – I am not a liberal, not that there would be anything wrong with it if I was. Conservatives enjoy civil liberties, too, last I checked. Actually, the 2nd definition of grope you posted is precisely descriptive of the TSA, since they can’t seem to find guns, knives, forks, and other metallic objects routinely finding their way through airports.

Sylvania

September 14th, 2011
1:36 pm

Grope: to touch or handle someone for sexual pleasure; an act or instance of sexually fondling another person.

Pat-down: an act or instance of passing the hands over the body of a clothed person to detect concealed weapons, drugs, etc.

I love kids. I hate ignorance. Ignorant parents usually raise ignorant kids.

The Sage

September 14th, 2011
1:47 pm

Shame on you, blogmaster, for not posting my earlier response. I find it very odd that on a “mom blog” people like Sylvania can openly insult the children of other bloggers, but comments about bullies like Sylvania are not posted. What’s with the double standard?

The Sage

September 14th, 2011
1:57 pm

@Sylvania, does it make you feel like a big, bad tough guy when you insult children you’ve never met? When you have to resort to tactics like that, it’s usually the sign of an intellectual deficiency. I know you think you’re smarter than all of us because you went from head ticket ripper at Regal Cinemas to a big bad TSA agent, but you’re not. The FACT that children are being touched all over by TSA agents is not because parents aren’t following the rules and leaving things in the kids’ pockets. That’s an absurd assertion. I haven’t met a toddler yet that puts things in their pockets. They all want things in their hands.

Maybe if the TSA spent less time checking diapers and colostomy bags, they might find weapons that people aren’t even trying to hide! People routinely pass knives and guns right underneath the TSA’s nose! Try googling it and see how many reports there are of people forgetting they had knives, guns, and box cutters in their carry on luggage that made it by the TSA.

@”Hey” you’re clueless. You’re one of those people who thinks anyone who disagrees with you is a “dumb liberal.” Most of the complaints I hear about the TSA and their ridiculous polices and procedures are on conservative talk radio.

Sorry, mom2... ...

September 14th, 2011
2:00 pm

…but NO ONE is, as you said “The point is that we have spent a lot of time teaching our young kids that NO ONE touches them in private areas except parents and the doctor” touching your child in private areas during a pat down screen for guns, knives, explosives, etc at an airport – they may slide their hand up under your boobs or grannies’, if they are large enough, but not your kids’…

mom2alex&max

September 14th, 2011
2:03 pm

To Sorry: whatever then. I’m still not changing my mind about flying and I’m still not letting an overweight, undereducated, poorly trained looser with a bad attitude and a minimum wage job “run” her hands over my kid. Not happening. I don’t care for the reasons, I don’t care why, I don’t care how, and I don’t care what they are thinking.

Wayne

September 14th, 2011
2:24 pm

I’m a bit confused. I’ve read some things that lead me to believe that there are issues on how the TSA handles pat down screens. I’ve also read that the full body scanners aren’t as safe as they should be. I haven’t personally spoken to anyone that has gone through a pat down screen that had issues with it, but there are plenty of stories from folks that have gone through it.

If it isn’t an issue, how come the TSA is changing their stance on screenings for kids? If it truly isn’t a problem -as some folks are alluding to- and the TSA has staunchly defended their practices, why is it changing?

Hey, Wayne...

September 14th, 2011
4:11 pm

…it is changing because of all the misunderstanding of the procedure (see many of the concerns on this blog), and it is also changing because they (the TSA and the gov-mint) that it is really foolish to do what they have been doing. And, the technology has changed, too, – so look for no one to have to take their shoes off in the near future.

Regarding the “scanners, they are safe for everything – the “unsafe” x-ray paranoia is just that, paranoia…you get more radiation from just walking near any electrical substation, and you don’t see any warning signs or “people screaming” about that…

LC

September 14th, 2011
8:56 pm

The terrorist have won! We are afraid of everything now. I will never fly again. Too much hassle.

clark kent

September 14th, 2011
10:32 pm

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.