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TSA rethinks pat downs for children under 12; no longer requires they remove shoes....

Posted by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM
  • 23 Replies
Image: Young traveler
Marion Anzuoni  /  Reuters file
A passenger holding her baby prepares to go through a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport in 2009. The government is rolling out changes to screening policies for children under 12 in the coming months.
By
updated 9/13/2011 7:42:40 PM ET

Children 12 years old and younger soon will no longer be required to remove their shoes at airport security checkpoints, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress on Tuesday. The policy also includes other ways to screen young children without resorting to a pat-down that involves touching private areas on the body.

Napolitano said during a Senate hearing on the terror threat to the U.S. that the changes would be rolled out in the coming months. But the Transportation Security Administration later said the changes would be rolled out in weeks rather than months.

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.

Many travelers have complained that the TSA does not use common sense when it screens all air travelers the same way, including young children and the elderly. Criticism escalated last year when the government began using a pat-down more invasive than what had been used in the past, one that involves screeners feeling a traveler's genital and breast areas.

Earlier this year, TSA introduced a modified pat-down for children 12 and under and later announced it would look at ways to screen children through other methods to reduce the number of pat-downs provided to them. TSA Administrator John Pistole had called for a more aggressive pat-down for air travelers when he took over the agency last year because he thought it gave screeners the best chance at stopping a suicide bomber like the one who nearly brought down an airliner over Detroit in 2009 with a bomb tucked in his pants.

Story: Airport security: You ain't seen nothing yet

To reduce the number of pat-downs given to children, screeners will soon be told to send children through metal detectors or the walk-through imaging machines multiple times to capture a clear picture and use more explosive trace detection tools such as hand swabs, according to the TSA.

"TSA anticipates these changes, which will begin rolling out in select airports this week, will continue to strengthen and streamline the security screening process for travelers," said agency spokesman, Greg Soule.

The government is expected to soon begin testing a new airport screening system on a small number of travelers who volunteer personal information that intelligence officials will vet. If cleared, these travelers could go through security faster, in some cases, because they won't be asked to take their shoes off.

Mercifully, summer travel season nears its end

Removing shoes during checkpoint screening has been a common complaint among airline travelers since security was increased after an al-Qaida operative tried to set off a bomb built into his shoe on an American Airlines flight in December 2001.

Not all countries around the world have the same requirements. For instance, countries in the European Union have never required that travelers take off their shoes to go through security at airports, Pistole has acknowledged. And while no one has attempted another shoe bomb on a U.S. flight since December 2001, Pistole said the technique continues to be an option for terrorists.

"Probably the most visible part of the change in homeland security since 9/11 for most Americans has been the presence of TSA at the airports," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee which held Tuesday's hearing. "It's an annoyance to people," Lieberman said of the security measures. "But they put up with it."

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Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM
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Replies (1-10):
mamaof2angles
by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 12:14 PM
Im failing to see the issue, when my parents were stationed in Germany I was stripped down to my diaper as a baby and searched before my parents could get on the plane/train whatever transportaion they were using when we were going to the Embassy to get my passport (back in 1983) so its NOT like its something new
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Traci_Momof2
by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:03 PM

I guess I don't get why removing shoes is more of a hardship for kids 12 and under than it is for any other age.  If they are going to continue to require everyone else to remove their shoes, why exempt kids?  Doesn't make sense.  Removing shoes is quite harmless.

andiemomo3
by Andie on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I was actually having this conversation with my children just yesterday.  They are dying to go see some family overseas and I don't want to fly them right now - lots of personal reasons.  One of the reasons is all of the muck-up in the TSA right now.  I simply don't want to deal with all of the regulations.  I was explaining to the children that I actually do understand the reasonings for the regulations - because there are some nutjobs out there who will strap bombs to their children and send them on a plane.  The same nutjobs that will strap bombs on their children and send them through car-checkpoints.  Or strap bombs on themselves.  It's just reality.  It sucks - but it's crappy reality.

This ended up being an hour-long conversation of how people could sneak bombs onto airplanes.  So nice that we have to have these talks with our children.  And I'll fly overseas again.  I would rather things simmer down a little bit.

Though - as my husband so nicely put it, at least if we're all together - we blow up all together.  Ugh.

tooptimistic
by Kelly on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:09 PM

A little common sense.  That wasn't so hard.  :)

kloesmommy
by Bronze Member on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:10 PM
I think the modified pat down is good. Shoes, whatever, though I do think it's kinda stupid to make people take off their flat bottom flip flops (not the kinds with thick soles, just the skinny ones). The invasive pat down for children should have never been allowed. What if the child had been sexually abused -unfortunately many have and I can only imagine what the invasive pat down made them feel like.
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kloesmommy
by Bronze Member on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM
Oh and were flying into DC from San Diego next week and I had actually started having anxiety about the possibility of my daughter being groped on her privates-
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mamaof2angles
by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:13 PM
Common sense? Really? So ALL kids should get a "free" pass because they are kids? Wow! So the people whom use childern to smuggle drugs etc.... Are NOW cheering for joy because one of their ways to smuggle things will now get a pass. Yea I FEEL sooo much safer flying. *Rolls eyes*


Quoting tooptimistic:

A little common sense.  That wasn't so hard.  :)


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mamaof2angles
by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:17 PM
2 words DONT FLY if your "so" worried about that than dont fly DRIVE its not rocket science people also DONT go overseas they WILL get patted down I posted what happened to me as a MONTHS old baby and when I went to Europe as a teen they were STILL doing MAJOR pat downs and such but THIS is what happens in a TOUCHY FEELY society


Quoting kloesmommy:

Oh and were flying into DC from San Diego next week and I had actually started having anxiety about the possibility of my daughter being groped on her privates-

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kloesmommy
by Bronze Member on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM
Two words: SCREW YOU! I'm sorry that I don't want my daughter to be sexually assaulted ( yes go google the definition). My daughter has been a victim and I am concerned with anything that may further traumatize her. Their total body scans can see everything that these pat downs can feel so there is no need to touch her privates. What kind of message do we send to a child who is being taught that no one should touch their privates, then allowing someone to do so? So like I said, screw you, we follow all procedures in place bit I draw the line at groping a 4 year old.


Quoting mamaof2angles:

2 words DONT FLY if your "so" worried about that than dont fly DRIVE its not rocket science people also DONT go overseas they WILL get patted down I posted what happened to me as a MONTHS old baby and when I went to Europe as a teen they were STILL doing MAJOR pat downs and such but THIS is what happens in a TOUCHY FEELY society




Quoting kloesmommy:

Oh and were flying into DC from San Diego next week and I had actually started having anxiety about the possibility of my daughter being groped on her privates-


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mamaof2angles
by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 1:38 PM
Well then IF you CHOOSE to fly DONT COMPLAIN about things, for us personally its CHEAPER to drive than fly and w/medical cathings EVERY 3hrs it works better for us, like I said DONT go overseas IF your soo worried about this and thanks for assumeing Im STUPID (go goggle) *rolls eyes* what ever Im DONE w/you as soon as this posts because I GAVE you an alternitive and your reponse is "screw you" NICE


Quoting kloesmommy:

Two words: SCREW YOU! I'm sorry that I don't want my daughter to be sexually assaulted ( yes go google the definition). My daughter has been a victim and I am concerned with anything that may further traumatize her. Their total body scans can see everything that these pat downs can feel so there is no need to touch her privates. What kind of message do we send to a child who is being taught that no one should touch their privates, then allowing someone to do so? So like I said, screw you, we follow all procedures in place bit I draw the line at groping a 4 year old.




Quoting mamaof2angles:

2 words DONT FLY if your "so" worried about that than dont fly DRIVE its not rocket science people also DONT go overseas they WILL get patted down I posted what happened to me as a MONTHS old baby and when I went to Europe as a teen they were STILL doing MAJOR pat downs and such but THIS is what happens in a TOUCHY FEELY society






Quoting kloesmommy:

Oh and were flying into DC from San Diego next week and I had actually started having anxiety about the possibility of my daughter being groped on her privates-



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