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Flying with kids - new TSA screening stuff

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

We pretty much never fly because DH hates it anyway, but my sister is getting married across the country next summer and I really wanted to go.  By that time, I'll have a new baby and a 4-year-old.  I'm really terrified of flying with my kids now with the new screening procedures TSA is doing.  Has anyone flown recently?  If my child is selected for the new body scanner screening, I'm not comfortable with DD being exposed to any level of unnecessary radiation.  But from what I hear about the new "pat-down" procedures, I certainly couldn't subject her to that.  How am I supposed to explain to a 4-year-old why it's okay for someone else to touch her genitals?  So--is the screening really as bad as I'm hearing?  Has anyone been through it?  Would you fly?  I'm leaning towards missing the wedding at this point.  There's no way DH could get enough time off work for us to drive there, and the car trip would be a nightmare.

post #2 of 46

We've flown a lot with our kids and were selected for additional screening once or twice. I found it to be no big deal. If the radiation scares you (I don't know how much additional radiation it is), then I think the full body pat-down is OK. Remember that the TSA people are PEOPLE. They're not going to undress your children and give them a medical exam peering into orifices, they're going to pat over their clothes. My kids have had that done and it was untraumatic. The rule in our house is that it's OK if mom and dad are there to make sure you're safe.

post #3 of 46

We fly all the time, and every airport I've been to has had multiple 'scanner' lines.  If you dont want to do the full body one, get in the line for the regular metal detector type one.  


Also, the 'pat down' is just a quick thing, they dont grab crotches or anything weird.  

post #4 of 46

There are some ongoing changes and it seems the new patdowns do involve grabbing crotches as well as breasts.  Apparently they are going to stop subjecting children 12 and under to the patdowns that involve touching genitalia but I would never allow anyone to touch my 13 year old in that way either so I guess we will not be flying anywhere in the near future.

post #5 of 46

3 airports where we had pat downs 2 days ago,  Not one 'weird touch'.  


And again, airport still have the option of going through a metal detector, no one touches you or sees anything.  It is not a big deal like everyone is making it out to be.   


My dad flies around the world (literally) every other month, and so far has never HAD to go through the body scan.  

post #6 of 46

But you can't always choose the metal detector.  They'll tell you to go to the scanner and then you have to decide between that and the pat-down, and the nature of the pat-down is just going to depend on the worker.  I think you just have to prepare ahead, find out what the proper procedure is (like they're supposed to tell you as they do it what they're doing) and prep your kids that way.  Pretty awful but knowing what might happen is helpful, as long as you have to go through it...

post #7 of 46

You can attempt to choose the line you want but they are pulling people from the "old" line to walk through the body scanners.  My dh flew late last month and was pulled from the metal detector line to go through the body scanner.  He declined the body scanner and was given the enhanced patdown.  I think he was more amused than bothered by some guy feeling around his testicles but I would be horrified by the new patdown and completely unwilling to allow my children to go through it.  I was embarrassed enough by the old patdown.  If you and your father have avoided any issues so far I'm glad but that does not mean that this is not a problem.   

post #8 of 46

The new patdown is hands up, not the back of the hand.


I'm actually more comfortable with the radiation exposure for my kids than subjecting them to genital and breast touching (my 8 year old is developing).  But we don't fly very often.  If we did, it might be a different story.


Yes, the screeners will (we can only hope) be 100 percent professional.  But as someone who has performed many patdowns of children and young people (back of the hand ones at that) as a corrections officer as part of visitation day, don't believe the bullpuckey that it isn't disturbing and invasive.  It most certainly is.  If you have have the right person, you can minimize it--but a patdown even sans crotch and breast manipulation is often stressful esp. in unusual and stressful circumstances (airline travel, the very busy unfamiliar airport).


I personally don't have a problem with a professional feeling my crotch.  I think hospital birth cured me of that particular sensitivity, plus having had to do similar (if not so explicit) actions where it wasn't personal doesn't make me feel like it's all about me.


However.  Human nature being what it is, I DO worry about women (esp. young women) being exploited by the patdown.  All it takes is one bad apple, and of course there are bad people in the TSA just like there are bad cops, bad doctors, bad corrections officers, bad teachers out there and it can do a lot of damage.  I'm guessing that most people will choose the scanner.


I think it's a total waste of money though.  If security is a concern, then you need to do it to everyone, especially classes of people who won't be subjected to it, like children.  As a corrections officer I had to do regular diaper checks, because that is where the drugs/contraband/weapons came in, as well as people taping stuff under their breasts, ect.  Maybe with this level of ridiculousness people will finally realize that this kind of "safety" is just $$ for contractors, and will not tolerate it and start demanding that real security is invested in.


I'm not holding my breath though.

post #9 of 46

My problem with the scanner isn't just the radiation, it's the fact that it's essentially a nude picture that someone is seeing of me or my kid.  That bothers me.  And the fact that the TSA has changed their story about whether or not the pictures are destroyed doesn't make me feel better.  I've only flown a few times in my life and hopefully can avoid it as much as possible for the rest of it.  Unless of course something changes and they stop this ridiculous security theater.

post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by PoppyMama View Post

There are some ongoing changes and it seems the new patdowns do involve grabbing crotches as well as breasts.  Apparently they are going to stop subjecting children 12 and under to the patdowns that involve touching genitalia but I would never allow anyone to touch my 13 year old in that way either so I guess we will not be flying anywhere in the near future.

Do you have any specifics about when they're going to stop doing this to kids?  12 seems pretty arbitrary, but at least for the moment it might protect my kids a little.  Must research...

post #11 of 46

I guess I see this as roughly the same as medical x-rays.  We don't fly (or do x-rays) often enough for me to be worried about the radiation.  The photos aren't "interesting" enough to be used for illegal purposes -- they look more like x-rays than nude photos.  So I would be comfortable with either me or my children doing the full body scan.  I would be less comfortable with the full pat-down as that is harder to control and will depend on the professionalism of the screener, and you can't judge that before your are in the middle of the situation.   The one thing that I would be sure to remember and insist on is that anyone being searched or scanned has the right to be accompanied by a companion, so no one has the right to take your child away from you to do any sort of security process.  You probably can't get into the machine together, but you can be right there and THAT I would insist on.

post #12 of 46


 Apparently they are going to stop subjecting children 12 and under to the patdowns that involve touching genitalia

 Does anyone have a link with more information on this?  I searched the TSA website and couldn't find any details.  We're flying after Christmas, and I want to be informed and prepared.

post #13 of 46

I recently flew internationally, and went through 3 of the 'enhanced' patdowns (the airports I was at did not have the body scanners, and we were given no other option if we wanted to get on the plane.


It is mercifully quick, but I did find it invasive and stressful. They definitely did grope the breast and crotch area in all 3 cases. I do not know whether my children were given a pat-down, as men and women were separated into different lines, so they were sent to the other line with their father. Given the choice between the scanner and the pat down, I'm honestly not sure what I'd choose. I tend to agree that the only thing these scans will probably achieve is making the companies that produce the scanning devices rich.

post #14 of 46

Pistole said they were going to start exempting children 12 and under on the today show.  I don't have a link to the clip but here is a link to an article referencing where he said it. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101115/us_nm/us_usa_security_screening_1

post #15 of 46

I have mixed feelings about this


My first concern is safety, and if it's going to take a body scan/pat down to ensure I'm going to be flying safe fine. I've gotten pat downs before -- music concerts, club venues etc. Not one time did I feel like I was getting fondled or anything. I really don't think they are grabbing anyone's junk -- it stinks yes but what would stink even more is my plane getting blown up.

post #16 of 46

Would the pat down/enhanced scanner have prevented the 9-11 terrorists from getting on the plane?  They weren't carrying anything they weren't allowed to have, they turned the planes themselves into their weapon.  Would it have prevented the shoe bomber or the underwear bomber from getting on the plane?  With the last two I'm honestly curious if the bomb they were carrying could have been felt or noticed by a body scanner. 


post #17 of 46

I don't think these measure are protecting us from foreign terrorists at all.  I think they are just eroding the our constitutional freedoms until we will have none left.  Honestly, if fear of terrorists has now led us to ignore child pornography laws and allow ourselves and our children to be "handled" in such a sexually inappropriate manner without a warrant then the terrorists have done a great job.

post #18 of 46

I'm not sure I understand why these pat downs are considered sexual -- is going to the doctor for a check up (the gyno, a physical, etc) sexual? No it's someone doing their job...


Also to clarify I do not think 9/11 would have been stopped by a pat-down or anything, and maybe this is not really essential but you do have a choice

post #19 of 46
Originally Posted by mommariffic View Post

I'm not sure I understand why these pat downs are considered sexual -- is going to the doctor for a check up (the gyno, a physical, etc) sexual? No it's someone doing their job...

That depends on the doctor, doesn't it? I wouldn't paint them all with a broad brush, but I think it's pretty naive to assume that every exam is done without any sexual intent on the part of the doctor (there have certainly been GYNs who have been charged for sexual assault, after all). And, those are people who are specifically trained to think of those exams as a clinical, non-sexual process. I see no reason to assume that any given TSA employee who is cupping my crotch is doing so with seuxal intent...but there's no reason to assume he/she is doing so without such intent, either. The bottom line is that I just don't let some random guy give me a GYN check. These are two different things.


I'm sad that we're going to visit my in-laws in the Spring. I have no desire whatsoever to fly these days. I feel less safe than ever, because all this security theatre makes it fairly obvious to me that keeping travelers safe isn't the priority - putting on a show of keeping us safe is. What happens when someone smuggles something dangerous onto a plane in a body cavity? Is that going to make it okay to subject random passengers to body cavity searches, all in the name of "keeping us safe"? People draw the lines in different places. I feel no more safe from terrorists...and much, much, much less safe from the people who are "protecting" us.

post #20 of 46

The fact that the searches are coercive and violate my rights and I didn't hire someone to do them.  Once you get back there you are not allowed to change your mind and leave without having the search without being subject to lawsuits and fines.  I am lucky that I can choose not to fly without giving up access to close family or giving up my job but other people are not so lucky.  Not to mention that it seems likely that these constitution violating searches are being, at least partially, used to intimidate people into not fighting the body scans.  








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