If the leggings incident taught me anything, it is not to jump to conclusions. So I won’t. But video of a TSA agent invasively screening a 13-year old boy does make me sick.
Before we get to the video, here the backstory as best I can piece together. A young boy named Aaron traveling from DFW neglected to remove his laptop from his bag. The computer had to be re-screened and the TSA decided Aaron needed secondary screenings as well, even though he set off no alarms. Aaron was traveling with his family and his mother Jennifer asked if there were any alternate screening methods to a pat down since Aaron suffers from sensory processing disorder (SPD).
Jennifer was allegedly told that her son could “either be patted down or be escorted out by the DFW police.” The rude remark took her by surprise and a back and forth took place during which the airport police were summoned. Ultimately, Aaron was subjected to an extremely invasive pat down that lasted roughly two minutes and was captured on video by his mother.
Here’s the video–
Aaron’s mother posted the following caption to her video on Facebook:
We have been through hell this morning. They detained Aaron for well over an hour at DFW. (And deliberately kept us from our flight… we are now on an alternate) We were treated like dogs because I requested they attempt to screen him in other ways per TSA rules. He has SPD and I didn’t want my child given a pat down like this. Let me make something else crystal clear. He set off NO alarms. He physically did not alarm at all during screening, he passed through the detector just fine. He is still several hours later saying “I don’t know what I did. What did I do?” I am livid. Please, share… make this viral like the other children’s videos with TSA… I wish I had taped the entire interchange because it was horrifying. We had two DFW police officers that were called and flanking him on each side. Somehow these power tripping TSA agents who are traumatizing children and doing whatever they feel like without any cause, need to be reined in.
Meanwhile, the TSA responded–
TSA allows for a pat-down of a teenage passenger, and in this case, all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.
The video shows a male TSA officer explaining the procedure to the passenger, who fully cooperates. Afterward, the TSA officer was instructed by his supervisor, who was observing, to complete the final step of the screening process.
In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes, and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to mitigate the concerns of the mother.
The passengers were at the checkpoint for approximately 45 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection.
My Thoughts on the Situation
The key unanswered question is this — why did Aaron receive the pat down?
If it was only because his laptop that “set off the alarm” (his mother disputes even that point) why did he have to undergo such a pat down? Is TSA policy now to perform an invasive search if a passenger’s hand baggage sets off an alarm? That has never been my experience.
Let’s assume the search was valid and according to procedure (and my hunch is the search was not valid). What a ridiculously invasive pat down! [Insert crass jokes about defrocked Roman Catholic priests taking up work at the TSA]. Why did the agent need to perform “sensitive area” checks what appeared to be four times? Was it just punishment for the mother’s initial resistance to the search? This seems like a textbook detention of molestation to me..
I’ll stop speculating further. But even if this search was 100% justified, what a sad testament to the state of security in U.S. airports. How pathetic that a little boy is groped because of paranoia over a laptop.
I can anticipate the reaction of some:
Oh, the poor snowflake with his fake SPD had to go through a little pat down. Big deal!
Please, before you dismiss this story as just a hysterical mother protecting her son, step back and think how ridiculous airport security has become. Imagine if it were your son being screened like for the cardinal sin of forgetting to take his laptop out of his bag. Meanwhile, another TSA agent was arrested for sexting a teenager.
Perhaps the TSA was just following orders. Maybe the molestation was necessary to protect national security. I’m still ashamed. The video makes me sick.