TSA official pats down distraught 3-year-old girl

Mock cover of a children's book entitled “My First Cavity Search.” A young child is being approached by airport security officials. The officials are wearing inspection gloves.

(Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Redacted News)

Airport security post-9/11 has been a tedious process for all involved, from passengers to screeners. Sometimes the tedium crosses the line into invasion of personal space. Hot Air reports that a TSA official in Chattanooga, Tenn., showed that she could perhaps use some sensitivity training after a recent episode with a cranky child. Captured on video by the child’s father, the TSA official pats down the 3-year-old as the child writhes and screams.

TSA pat down began with teddy bear tantrum

The TSA pat down of 3-year-old Mandy Simon – daughter of Houston TV news reporter Steve Simon – began when Mandy was separated from her teddy bear at a scanner checkpoint. Mandy began to cry inconsolably, and TSA flagged the child for “closer inspection,” meaning that a pat down and hand scanner were mandated. Whether TSA officials had serious reason to believe that Mandy Simon was an explosives mule for al-Qaeda is unclear; such things have occurred with children and the mentally impaired in Iraq. Thus, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security mandates that such invasive procedures occur, despite their intensely unpopular standing with passengers and airport staff.

Yet the video of the incident speaks for itself. As Hot Air suggests, perhaps TSA could have taken mom and dad aside for questioning, to see if an inspection was truly necessary.

The U.S. could take a page out of Israel’s book

According to reports, Israel has not had an airport security breach in decades. Their methods are said to be both more comprehensive and more subtle than what TSA currently uses in the United States. If TSA screeners were properly trained in what to look for, the random sample method would be unnecessary, argues the Wall Street Journal. “Mugging random 3-year-olds,” as Hot Air puts it, would be a thing of the uninformed past. If a young child must be searched, making a game of it in efforts to redirect a child’s fear or anger could help make the process more efficient and less traumatic. Proper training – and proper attitude from someone in what amounts to a highly specialized customer service position – could help restore Janet Napolitano and the TSA’s severely tarnished images.


Hot Air

TSA must learn how to work with children


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