TSA frisks groom children to cooperate with sex predators, abuse expert says

Charlie - posted on 12/04/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )




An expert in the fight against child sexual abuse is raising the alarm about a technique the TSA is reportedly using to get children to co-operate with airport pat-downs: calling it a “game”.

Ken Wooden, founder of Child Lures Prevention, says the TSA’s recommendation that children be told the pat-down is a “game” is potentially putting children in danger.

Telling a child that they are engaging in a game is “one of the most common ways” that sexual predators use to convince children to engage in inappropriate contact, Wooden told Raw Story.

Children “don’t have the sophistication” to distinguish between a pat-down carried out by an airport security officer and an assault by a sexual predator, he said.

The TSA policy could “desensitize children to inappropriate touch and ultimately make it easier for sexual offenders to prey on our children,” Wooden added.

Following an outcry last month over the use on children of “enhanced pat-downs” — which involve the touching of genitals — the TSA announced a new “modified” pat-down for children under 12. However, as the LA Times noted, the new rules are “unclear” on whether TSA agents can touch children’s genitals.

Addressing the controversy over pat-downs of children last month, TSA regional security director James Marchand told the press the TSA was working on new practices to make children more comfortable during the pat-down process.
Wooden, who has testified before Congress on child safety issues on numerous occasions, says he was told by a TSA agent that the practice has been used.

“How can experts working at the TSA be so incredibly misinformed and misguided to suggest that full body pat downs for children be portrayed as a game?” Wooden asked in an email. “To do so is completely contrary to what we in the sexual abuse prevention field have been trying to accomplish for the past thirty years.”

He added: “This policy is also incredibly insensitive to the countless victims who have already been traumatized by unwanted touching in their lives and could be re-traumatized by such pat-downs.”

On Tuesday, TSA administrator John Pistole said the agency may change its screening rules for victims of sex abuse. He also said the TSA had no plans to continue expanding the airport screening process.

“I think we are at the most thorough that we will probably be in terms of our physical screening,” he announced.

thoughts ?


View replies by

Tracey - posted on 12/07/2010




My 12 year old is disabled and wears an adult size nappy / diaper. I pity the security man who tries to pat him down.

Becky - posted on 12/06/2010




You can have your children go through the scanner and they say it's safe. Of course, whether it is or not, I don't know. It is still radiation. The issue, I guess (I got this from a Code Name Mama blog post) is that you have to stand still for like 10 seconds with your arms raised up in the air. A lot of toddlers and preschoolers just aren't able to do this, so then they make them do the pat down. That's why I say we won't be flying to the US until our kids are old enough to handle the scanners. I'm not crazy about those either, but it's better than someone groping my child!

Tah - posted on 12/06/2010




unacceptable..i teach my children that noone can touch their privates, it is not a game and no matter what someone tells them, they should tell us right away. I also teach them that not everyone is their uncle and i don't let them go around sitting on people's laps. I think it can do harm. They say that they will change it for victims of sexual abuse..but how would they know?...do you have to bring your police report and have a letter sewn on your clothing so that TSA knows not to touch you there?...

Tracey - posted on 12/06/2010




Do parents have the option of having the child screened instead of pat downs?
I taught my kids that no-one can touch the area covered by underwear except a doctor and only then if it is sore / injured, I would rather have them screened, although I don't know if there are any health risks?

Lady Heather - posted on 12/05/2010




Touch my kids genitals and I kick you in yours. And that's just to start.

Kate CP - posted on 12/04/2010




No...no I don't think so. I mean who would hide an explosive in a baby's diaper? Talk about a dirty bomb...yeesh.

Charlie - posted on 12/04/2010




I find the whole thing outrages is there really a need to pat down their genitals ?

Kimberly - posted on 12/04/2010




I do realize that there are people out there that use children as drug carriers and that they do need to be checked but come on!!!! Telling them that its a 'game' to have someone they've never seen touch them and undress them?? no way in hell. I would do the undressing if they needed to check my daughter but by no means would they ever touch her. I also wont be flying through the USA until this is changed because I would probally get kicked off the flight for not letting them touch my child!!!

Rosie - posted on 12/04/2010




i never knew they could pat down children. that's going way overboard in my opinion,and i'm usually all about defending airport security measures.
i think it's completely fucked up.

Becky - posted on 12/04/2010




While I certainly don't think it's the intention of the TSA to make children more susceptible to sexual abuse, I do think that telling them the pat downs are a game could have that consequence for some children.
I disagree with the use of patdowns on children. Not only because of the invasion of privacy, but because for young children, having a stranger touch them like that can be very traumatic. My 1 year howled the other day when the photographer at our Christmas pictures tried to reposition him. He'd be frantic if a stranger was patting him down and touching his diaper area! Honestly, I'd rather take them in a private room and with me there, - and NO recording equipment of any kind in the room - strip them down so the agents could see that there was nothing on their bodies. Up to a certain age and with the parent present and doing the undressing, I think this would be less traumatic than the pat down.
I don't think we'll be flying to the USA until either this is changed or my kids are old enough to cooperate with the scanners.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms