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Flying With A Child? TSA Screening Is & Should Be Required – Get Over It!

March 23, 2012

This past week there has been a lot of buzz on the internet about a video from 2010 that depicts a TSA agent patting down a 3-year-old boy in a wheelchair with casts on his legs.

As a mother of a 3-year-old boy who has a passport that has been used internationally and more frequent flyer miles on United than a lot of adults rack up in a lifetime, I pose a simple question….what is the big deal?  I just flew with my son to NYC and back last weekend and he went through security just like I did. Of course he did not have to take his shoes off like I did but I made him take off his sweatshirt and follow all the other rule.  The only reason I did not take his shoes off was because I was on my own with him and being lazy 🙂

During the entire process, I explained to him that we had to go through security so no one brings anything dangerous on board that they are not supposed to. Whether I think the TSA is actually effective is irrelevant so long as they behave within the guidelines that established their organizations which, as far as I can tell, they do. Personally, I think we should operate a system like they do in Israel and I do not have issues with profiling. I say that being half Colombian and I get profiled every time I fly out of Bogotá and all I am bringing back is Cumin and Coffee!  Our govt made the decision to set this organization up and TSA employees are only doing what they are told so I obey the rules without giving them grief and teach my son to do the same.  

As we went through security, I explained to him that while he did not need to take his shoes off, I did (because mine are bigger) and that he would have to walk through the x-ray ahead of me but I would be right behind him.  He thought all the technology was neat because I made it fun and approached it like a game, asking him to help me and joking about putting him in a bin and sending him through the luggage x-ray machine 🙂  He even wanted to know why he could not go through the backscatter machine and I told him he was to small but if he ate healthy food he would grow tall and be able to go through it.  I also told him there was no way he would be able to stand still, at which point he proceeded to imitate the man who was in it, assuming and holding the position!  When he was briefly hesitant to go through the x-ray machine without me I encouraged him as did the professional and kind TSA agent (this happened in both directions and both TSA employees were nothing but kind and reassuring to him).  

What would I have done if he had been pulled aside for additional screening? Simple, I would have complied. I would have stood aside and verbally assured him I was right there but that the people who were with him had my permission to examine him and that there was nothing to worry about.  Heck, I would have danced or sung to him to distract him if he was upset.  I would not have acted stressed but I would have, of course, watched them like a hawk.  I have already told him that if a doctor or someone needs to touch him, so long as mommy or daddy are there and watching it is ok.  Why, because I accept that we live in a new world order and some level of security needs to happen so the masses can be safe. Is this inconvenient and irritating? Of course it is.  Is it better than the alternative, which is a crazy religious zealot turning a child into a bomb and blowing us up….Of course it is!.  

All I can say to parents is that if you want to travel with your kids, accept that this can, and will, happen. Make security a game for them and re-assure them.  The more you make a big deal of it, by getting upset, videotaping it or railing against the rules, the worse it will be for your child.  If you do not think you can do this…..I have a simple solution….DO NOT FLY and if you fly, do not get in a security line in front of me! Personally, I love to drive and I hope you do as well.

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One Comment
  1. Jasmine, I’m with you on the statement “Personally, I think we should operate a system like they do in Israel and I do not have issues with profiling.” While I am not Colombian :), I do have a 7 year old daughter who has to travel in a wheelchair. You’re so right – It’s not about whether the TSA is effective, it’s about the lessons we are teaching our children. I don’t freak out when they pat her down and check her chair… because I know there are people in this world who are not above using an innocent child to blow up a plane. And while I know that we are NOT those people (insert profiling here please!), I tell her the same thing that you tell your son: They need to check everyone who boards the plane in order to keep us all safe. Getting through security is merely part of traveling these days… and in each experience we teach our children life lessons.

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