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TSA Under Fire For Pat-Down Of 6-Year-Old Girl

LINTHICUM, Md. (WJZ) — The Transportation Security Administration says it’s considering major changes to its passenger screening after the pat-down of a 6-year-old girl in New Orleans upsets many. 

Mary Bubala has more.

With her dad taping the incident and her mom by her side, a 6-year-old girl is patted down by a TSA agent.

The screener talked her through it, letting the girl know where she would be touched.

While the TSA says its agent followed proper procedure, the screening process will likely change, according to this statement:

“TSA has been actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers.”

But is it necessary to screen young children? Privacy experts say no way, security experts say absolutely.

“You can’t take kids out of the mix because that exemption points terrorists to a gaping hole in our security,” said Bob Orr, CBS News.

Watching the video, the TSA screener appears to behave in a gentle and professional manner. Still the image of a 6-year-old girl being patted down disturbed some parents at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

“I don’t think you need to do the physical pat-down. You can do the legs, but it gets too physical,” said Debbie Iannone, parent.  

Others say it’s part of a post 9-11 world.

“If they do it across the board, that’s OK with me, as long as it’s not too intrusive or rough or makes the child uncomfortable,” said Leann Lemke, parent.

“I think safety is number one so whatever we have to do, we have to do certainly in the most appropriate manner,” said Debbie Goldman, parent.

“I’ve been patted down before. I agree it’s for safety,” said Shoshana Goldman, age 13.

“As long as her parents tell her the reason why it’s important, then I think its fine,” said Goldie Goldman, age 15.

The head of the TSA is now indicating he would like to move to more risk-based, intelligence driven screening rather than just the random, one-size-fits-all screening that’s now in place.

More from Mary Bubala
  • john null white

    The TSA is welcome to pat down any member of my family that it wishes. The safety of all is paramount. Terrorist are known to do the most vile of acts to get the medias attention and to use a small child to transport prohibited material is not below their standards. They are cowards and cowards are capable of anything

    • Dbrianp

      I agree completely. They have no problem strapping bombs to their teen aged daughters, so I doubt they have an age limit!!!

    • sheriff willie

      John, Yeah sure, I’ll just bet a blonde haired blue eyed boy of six is a prime bomb carrier. We can delude ourselves into believing that the bogeyman is around every corner if we choose to do so.

  • Ed

    The parents of this girl need to stop over reacting and whining for media attention. Do they actually believe that someone who is willing to strap a bomb to themselves isn’t capable of doing that to their child?

  • betsy

    good points Ed and John.. why on earth would these people think twice about putting a bomb on their kid? They are he*l bent on killing people and they will stop at nothing. I would think that the parents would be appreciative that the TSA agent was being so thorough. Whine whine whine.. anything to get attention

  • Bernie

    We need a form of Homeland security but the problem with TSA is that there are some very high paying positions at the top & middle management but all the rest are goofballs with a lower I.Q.’s & pay. Better traind personnel along with better equipment using the same training that the state of Israel uses would go a long way towards alleviating angry people & move them more quickly. It is a terrible invasion of privacy & humiliating being examined by some $10 hr guard ill trained in medical procedures when they don’t even understand when you tell them you are a cancer survivor with an ostomy appliance & have a artificial hip. I have family member who refuse to travel because of a humiliating experience.

  • Jonathan Chiles

    Fear is what drives America to give away its Freedoms for the sake of security. Freedoms once given away, rarely come back.
    It is sad that this has become acceptable in America.
    The TSA says that they were just following policy. So basically no analytical abilities or common sense is required to work for the TSA, since all you do is follow policy. In our attempt to not offend anyone, we have offended everyone. We are reactive in America, and not Pro-active.
    Think about it, before the shoe bomber, did you need to take off shoes? It only took one time to throw America in to a reactive practice. Underwear Bomber = Pat downs and body scans. These techniques will never go away, in fact they will only become more invasive. All I ask is for common sense practices, and some intelligence. If people from Antarctica were attacking America, why would you check everyone but them? For those who fly often, why can’t we file for a background check that would print on the ticket. (Indicating a cleared person).

    It is not logical to live in a defensive state, it is to expensive to keep operating and it is mind numbing. Your best defense is a good offense. Keep the troops at home, and if someone try’s to mess with America, you take the fight to their door step.

    • Sarah

      If they had these policies in place before the shoe bomber, etc then those things wouldn’t have happened. What do you think we should do, just say “oh that will never happen again” and let it go?



  • Jason

    I am a former TSA agent and the negative reaction to this is horrible. We discovered an 8 year old with an undisclosed amount of marijuana in his backpack at the gate ready to get on the plane because “he’s just a kid” was good enough for the screeners at the checkpoint. We were also criticized for “harassing” elderly people with security and the tagline for us patting them down was “Does this person look like a terrorist?”. What would you do? In a crubling financial situation with your kids suffering, your savings and medical coverage gone, and your retirement cancelled, what would you say to a person that promises that “you and your family will not be harmed but leave this on the plane before you get off and we will make sure 60k finds it’s way to you after you do what we want you to”. So I say, being that I have seen a child used as a method of delivery, hell yeah we need to make sure everyone is safe and not give anyone an opportunity to get by using kids as weapons. If a child is patted down it should be explained that this is to show them that all other people are being treated equally to ensure safety and that the person just wanted to touch them so the TSA guy could molest a child. That sounds more to me like a person trying to file a lawsuit and less likely concerned with the validity of security proceedures and the comfort of their child. The parents should face charges for video taping security proceedures and if audio is in the tape that is against local laws as well, because now that the video has gone online it can be reviewed by terrorists to see where flaws may be in the pat down proceedures. There are kids with health issues that can’t go through metal detectors and the policy for them and people that are handicapped or have pace makers is they are required to go through a pat down.

    • CoreF

      Haha, okie dokie Jason. Yes let’s review the tapes for “flaws” in a pat down. OR better yet I could just go to one of the hundreds of united states airports and observe for myself. Another fear mongering post. God please send me back to any decade from 1940-1990.

    • Jason

      For the, “What would you do?”, just to be clear, I wouldn’t but someone on a limited income might be tempted in that situation and you never know what some people are capable of. I just wanted to clarify that.

  • trish

    a kid carrying pot is hardly a kid carrying a device that threatens airplane safety.

  • trish

    oh… and jonathan… will you marry me? lol a very articulate and accurate response. thank you.

  • Mark

    Don’t put up with this unconstitutional garbage! It’s all worthless security theater that does nothing to keep you “safe”. Boycott Flying ENTIRELY until sanity returns! Please join us on Facebook:

  • MAF

    The pat downs has to be done whether you like it or not. If you don’t like it, find other means of transportation to get you where you need to go. This is the reality of the aftermath of 911. Shame on the parents for making it a big deal. I thought she did what was required of her (the TSA agent) and she was as sensitive as she could be. I am sure it is hard for the TSA agent to do this job, you think she likes doing this? Terrorists are capable of anything even using a child to hide weapons and or bombs.

  • mandy

    What will happend if the TSA agent did not patdown the kid that got on the plane find out that the kid did have a gun or anything then that agent will not have a job now. I may not be a parent but I am happy that the TSA agent did the patdown on the kid. If I find out that kid have not been patdown then I will be mad & I know I was not safe or anyone else on the plane. Once up in the air there is no way of getting out of the plane not like trains, bus, or cars where you can get to safe spot. There is patdown at football games & I am sure there do kids also but no over reacting.

  • Edward Tinnivlioglou

    Oh please the child didn’t get harmed, she probably found it to be fun if mommy just encouraged her a little. What a joke, TSA your doing a fine job and following the rules. Can’t say that for a lot of people in the government.

  • danyelle

    I find it interesting how fast people are ready to give their freedoms away for the sake of FALSE security. You are paying to be felt up for nothing. Id rather not fly than deal with thos BS. Yes its dumb to assume people will not plant things on their children. But the bit picture here is that NO ONE should be subjected to this.. Whats nexr cavity searches?

  • Keewester

    To the guy that said “Lower pay and lower IQ” and later said “$10.00 an hour guard” This is the mentality of most – because they make less money than you do they have a low IQ? How do you know how much they make and why are you basing their human worth and intelligence on salary?

    To the TSA folks – you can pat down my children – I’m ok with any measures you take to make sure my family and I are safe in the air. I do think ti’s funny as hell when a Service Man/Woman is carrying their government issued rifle thru security and you confiscate their tweezers – but carry on and ignore the crazies.

  • Daisy

    Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Disgruntled people come in all ethnicities and races. If we don’t pat them down we are racists and if we do pat them down, we are profiling. In short, it sucks that we live in a world where this is even necessary. If any of you have flown in or out of Israel, this is nothing. Government soldiers openly and aggressively profile, question, and search, all with m-16’s at the ready. A sense of false security beats the hopelessness of not feeling secure at all and sometimes we have to make mistakes in order to get it right.

  • lb

    Rules are rules. The parents need to get over themselves and stop trying to create drama. Really, this should not be on the news. There are far worse things going on than some child having a routine security check.

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