“We tell [children] that only mom, dad and a doctor can touch you in your private area. Now we have to add TSA agent”, or so says Brie, from Briemarie.net, who allerted me to the latest uproar caused by the TSA.
If you're flying to America over the Christmas season be aware: you and your children may either have to submit to a full body scan or an 'enhanced pat down'.
Since January 2010 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been rolling out what they term Advanced Imaging Technology, or Whole Body Imaging, at airports around the United States. These devices are used to perform a virtual strip search of passengers.
The TSA originally said that these machines would be used only for secondary screening, for those passengers that set off an alarm at the walk-through metal detector. They are now being used as primary screening at 45 airports – basically taking nude images of passengers who have done nothing more suspicious than present a boarding pass.
An organisation, Opt Out Day, were calling on travellers in America today to opt out of being scanned. “No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent.”
The problem is for those who choose to opt out of the scans the only alternative is a pat down. In a rushed and busy airport, however, this may not always be done the 'right' way, as this case where a traumatised three-year old was searched.
According to the LA Times, children under 12 who opt out of the body scanner will “'undergo a modified pat-down search'. Citing security reasons, the TSA has declined to say what the modified pat-down entails.”
The part that bothers me the most is the “ possibility that they may be touched by TSA personnel as part of a pat-down. Parents won’t necessarily be with their kids as they pass through the scanner or get patted down.”
Now, they don't clarify what exactly 'touched' means, but I suspect I might go ballistic if someone tried to pat my little girl down in private – which of course wouldn't help and I'd probably find myself in police custody, but what is a parent meant to do?
It would possibly be kinder to her to tell her we're going to change her clothes for the plane, so I can take her clothes off and redress her again, preferably in a private area. The problem is that this might not suit a busy TSA agent who just wants to get through everyone in his queue.
It definitely makes me think twice about my US travel plans for next year.
How about you?
*Image courtesy of John Wild