hysterical 4-year old called "suspect" by TSA

Tah - posted on 04/25/2012 ( 5 moms have responded )

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WICHITA, Kan. -- The grandmother of a 4-year-old girl who became hysterical during a security screening at a Kansas airport said Wednesday that the child was forced to undergo a pat-down after hugging her, with security agents yelling and calling the crying girl an uncooperative suspect.

The incident has been garnering increasing media and online attention since the child's mother, Michelle Brademeyer of Montana, detailed the ordeal in a public Facebook post last week. The Transportation Security Administration is defending its agents, despite new procedures aimed at reducing pat-downs of children.

The child's grandmother, Lori Croft, told The Associated Press that Brademeyer and her daughter, Isabella, initially passed through security at the Wichita airport without incident. The girl then ran over to briefly hug Croft, who was awaiting a pat-down after tripping the alarm, and that's when TSA agents insisted the girl undergo a physical pat-down.

Isabella had just learned about "stranger danger" at school, her grandmother said, adding that the girl was afraid and unsure about what was going on.

"She started to cry, saying `No I don't want to,' and when we tried talking to her she ran," Croft said. "They yelled, `We are going to shut down the airport if you don't grab her.'"

But she said the family's main concern was the lack of understanding from TSA agents that they were dealing with a 4-year-old child, not a terror suspect.

"There was no common sense and there was no compassion," Croft said. "That was our biggest fault with the whole thing – not that they are following security procedures, because I understand that they have to do that."

Brademeyer, of Missoula, Mont., wrote a public Facebook post last week about the April 15 incident, claiming TSA treated her daughter "no better than if she had been a terrorist." The posting was taken down Wednesday. Another post said the family had filed formal complaints with the TSA and the airport.

The TSA released a statement Tuesday saying it explained to the family why additional security procedures were necessary and that agents didn't suspect or suggest the child was carrying a firearm.

"TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child," the agency said.

The statement noted that the agency recently implemented modified screening procedures for children age 12 and younger to further reduce the need for pat-downs of children, such as multiple passes through a metal detector and advanced imaging technology.

"These changes in protocol will ultimately reduce – though not eliminate – pat-downs of children," the statement said. "In this case, however, the child had completed screening but had contact with another member of her family who had not completed the screening process."

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, pressed the TSA for more information Wednesday. Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said he was concerned the TSA went too far.

"I am a staunch advocate for effective transportation security, but I'm also a strong advocate for common sense and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans," Tester wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole. "Any report of abuse of the power entrusted to officers of the TSA is especially concerning – especially if it involves children."

In a phone interview from her home in Fountain Valley, Calif., Croft said Brademeyer tried to no avail to get TSA agents to use a wand on the frightened girl or allow her to walk through the metal detector again. She also said TSA agents wanted to screen her granddaughter alone in a separate room.

"She was kicking and screaming and fighting and in hysterics," Croft said. "At that point my daughter ran up to her against TSA's orders because she said, `My daughter is terrified, I can't leave her.'"

The incident went on for maybe 10 minutes, until a manager came in and allowed agents to pat the girl down while she was screaming but being held by her mother. The family was then allowed to go to their next gate with a TSA agent following them.

Croft said that for the first few nights after coming home, Isabelle had nightmares and talked about kidnappers. She said TSA agents had shouted at the girl, telling her to calm down and saying the suspect wasn't cooperating.

"To a 4-year-old's perspective that's what it was to her because they didn't explain anything and she did not know what was going on," Croft said. "She saw people grabbing at her and raising their voices. To her, someone was trying to kidnap her or harm her in some way."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25...

did they take it too far??

what are some of the changes that need to come from this??

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Kristi - posted on 05/25/2012

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Oh, as a mother first and a human being second, I about lost my mind when I saw this article the first time! That incident boardered on criminal in my opinion. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior from an adult who is a so-called professional or for such treatment of a child. TSA's are a bunch of bullies who have been given way too much power and control over our human dignities. I have to disagree with the opinion that they need more training when it comes to dealing with children. That was a case of a grown man, in authority, who is going to show the scared, (unintentionally) defiant, little girl and EVERYONE around her who's BOSS in this here town. Nobody, but nobody is getting past this group of stellar agents and look what will happen to you if you try. The entire situation could have been avoided all together and everyone attached to that incident knows it. It is astonishing and shameful that this incident was justified by superiors.

That scares me more than actual terorists do. Not that I'm looking to meet one anytime soon ; ) but at least with them you know. My country is against your country so boom! you're dead. Here, we are supposed to feel safe and protected. But today, in the name of security we, as adults are being treated like child rapists should be and now so are our 4 year olds. There needs to be a compromise somewhere. Things have gone way too far and they are spiraling out of control. Of course, there is a need for strong security measures and I think we can all agree on that. I'm quite certain, however, that if a terrorist is planning to blow up one of our planes, he will find a way to beat security. There need to be special guidelines in place for screening children if for some reason going through the scanner isn't enough. One of those guidelines should be that the child is never without his/her guardian during any of the screening process. IDK, huge problem solver I'm not but common sense gets me by most of the time. =)

Kelina - posted on 05/07/2012

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I think they need to modify their understanding of children. Why couldn't they jsut have let her go through the metal detector again, or had her mother comfort her and calm her down and explain to her what was going to happen adn that it was ok and then screened them both? no. They had to terrify the child and couldn't possibly have realized that nothing short of her parents or sedatives was going to calm her down. If they're going to allow pat downs of children period they need to take some courses in child psychology and understand that normal children are going to be frightened. I saw this a while ago and it horrified me. Not to mention if they really did want to screen the little girl separately in her own room can they not imagine what a child might think they're going to do to her? A child who is already terrified and freaking out?

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Kristi - posted on 05/31/2012

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@ Tah...that is so BEEPED up! But it just goes to show you how ineffective these over stimulated, blood thirsty, glorified mall cops truly are. One of these days, just like today apparently, someone else will get through but next time we won't be so lucky. Questions will be raised, well how did this happen, I don't know...I was busy traumatizing our 4 year old suspected terrorist over here. The other one won't know either because he was to busy harassing a guy that flys the same commuter flight every week. It's disgusting. Thank goodnes for that flight attendant!

Tah - posted on 05/30/2012

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i was listening to the radio this morning and a man who was just released from prison made it all the way through to the airplane, no boarding pass at all. They didn't realize it until the flight attendants did a count and had an extra person on board....ummmmm yeah.......

Tah - posted on 05/11/2012

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i was thinking the same thing Kelina. It really does show that they don't understand children and that they don't have the appropriate training to to deal with them. I would have been pissed and raised a stink as well. I mean were there no mothers or fathers working that could have diffused the situation or comforted the child while doing the pat down, given her a lollipop??..nothing??

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