A San Diego father is outraged after his 10-year-old daughter received an “uncomfortable” pat-down from a TSA agent, which he recorded on cell phone video, NBC News is reporting.
Kevin Payne says that he and his daughter, Vendela, were traveling through Raleigh-Durham International Airport when the aggressive pat-down took place.
Vendela had apparently forgotten about a bag of Capri Sun juice that she had left in her bag. That caught the TSA agent’s attention because the bag contained more liquid than passengers are allowed to bring on a plane. The agent then swabbed the bag and got a false positive reading for explosives.
A female agent then conducted a thorough, two-minute pat-down of Payne’s daughter, which Payne recorded on video.
In the video, a visibly uncomfortable Vendela does her best to obey the agent’s commands while the agent places her hands all over her.
[Note: The video has since been removed for a violation of YouTube’s terms of service.]
Vendela described what she was feeling during the pat-down to NBC News.
“What was going through my mind is, ‘This is annoying, I don’t like this, I want to run out of the door.'”
According to the TSA’s website, the agency has procedures in effect when it comes to screening children. Specifically, children under 12 are allowed to leave their shoes on during pat-downs (although in Payne’s video Vendela was made to remove her shoes), and “modified” screening procedures are in place to limit the number of children subjected to pat-downs.
In a statement, however, the TSA insists that all procedures were followed properly during Vendela’s patdown.
“TSA screening procedures allow for the pat-down of a child under certain circumstances. The process by which the child was patted down followed approved procedures.”
Mr. Payne, however, is not satisfied with the TSA’s response. He says that, through his Congressman, he intends to file a formal complaint against the TSA and against the agent who patted down his daughter.
“The pat-down seemed to be the go-to option for them, and I think they could have done a better scrutiny of what they were looking for prior to putting their hands all over my 10-year-old daughter. Maybe they need retraining. Maybe they did everything by the book. I don’t really know, but it was an uncomfortable situation.”
In fact, the TSA has something of a spotty record when it comes to dealing with children, and stories of overzealous or poorly trained TSA agents mistreating children pop up with alarming regularity.
In 2012, for example, Huffington Post columnist Lisa Belkin told the story of 5th-grader Jacob Wisnik. According to the 10-year-old’s mother, Jacob uses an insulin pump that regularly causes fits for him when passing through TSA checkpoints. However, at O’Hare International Airport, things went from bad to worse when he mistakenly placed the pump in the front of his pants instead of on the side, which caused TSA agents to determine that he needed a pat-down of his genital area.
Eva says that her son was then “marched” to a private security room where he was “poked and prodded.” Jacob himself wrote about the experience.
“When a thousand eyes are watching you because they think you may be a deadly threat it is so uncomfortable and humiliating. I marched to the screening room barefoot. I suppose they were trying to follow regulations, but I was on the verge crying.”
Do you believe it’s necessary for the TSA to screen children as thoroughly as they screen adults? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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