TSA responds to complaints about airport pat downs of kids - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

TSA responds to complaints about kids being patted down at airports

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By Brigida Mack - bio l email & Tom Roussey - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -  Are children exempt for pat-downs at airport security? Not according to one man who says a TSA employee groped 6 year-old son at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The alleged incident is part of the growing backlash over the full body scans and pat downs at airports nationwide.

WBTV found the anonymous submission on a blog, "We Won't Fly." The man says the incident happened earlier this month and he describes how his little boy was traumatized saying the TSA agent groped his groin and that the little boy left the checkpoint in tears.

The commenter says his son was aggressively patted down by a TSA employee.

"He was pleading for me to help him and I was admonished for trying to comfort him," the comment on the blog states. "His genitals area was groped. He walked down to the plane in tears."

Read more: "6-year-old aggressively patted down in Charlotte"

WBTV contacted Charlotte's TSA and spokesperson said they knew nothing about the incident.

The TSA issued the following statement to WBTV on Wednesday night:

"Officers are trained to work with parents to insure a respectful screening process for the entire family while providing the best possible security for all travelers."

But that statement didn't answer our main question, which was are TSA workers allowed to pat down children even to the point of touching their private parts.

We asked the TSA on Thursday night if they would be more specific.  They sent us back the exact same sentence, but then added this second sentence.

"After a thorough risk assessment and after hearing concerns from parents, we made the decision that a modified pat down would be used for children 12 years old and under who require extra screening."

We emailed back to ask what exactly "modified" meant but Jon Allen with the TSA replied, "I can't discuss specifics of a security procedure such as a pat down."

So while it appears young children won't be subjected to as aggressive a pat down as adults, but it's still unclear how far the TSA is allowed to go in patting down children.

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The thought of young children being subjected to the pat downs doesn't sit well with travelers like Jennifer Pin.

"I would go with the body scans for them," said Pin whose twin daughters are 6 years old. "They keep away from strangers, so someone strange coming up to them and you know doing something that might be inappropriate, they don't know what that is."

But the anonymous commenter say the scanners weren't an option during his trip through Charlotte-Douglas.

"We were not given the choice of a full body scanner, but would have preferred it over this humiliating experience," the comment continues. "The scanners are still intrusive, but at least my 6-year-old son would have been unaware of the intrusion."

Dart Strickland just criss-crossed the country with his wife and three daughters. They didn't have to deal with the scanners or a pat down this time around, but he admits the concern is there.

"We've taught them all growing up you know hey this is what can't happen, people don't touch you this way," said Strickland. "And then to have to go back and explain that to them, I could definitely see where the concern in that would be."

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