Mixed Reaction to TSA Pat-Down of 6-Year-Old Girl

By Melissa Mollet
|  Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011  |  Updated 8:36 PM EDT
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Mixed Reaction to TSA Pat-Down of 6-Year-Old

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Is it ridiculous, a sign of the times or just fine for a Transportation Security Administration agents to pat down a 6-year-old?

A much talked-about video, recently posted on YouTube, shows a little girl with her mother at Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans last week when a TSA screener said the girl needed to be patted down. It seems the girl had been scanned previously because her mother can be heard asking for a rescan instead of a full pat-down.

The little girl can also be heard in a portion of the video saying, "I don't want to." The gloved female agent pats her down and checks inside the top of her waistband. During the screen, the agent is heard telling the girl where she will be touching her next.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there have been lots of questions about who should be screened at airports -- and how.

Some passengers at Reagan National Airport Wednesday said the checks are being done in the name of safety, while others think the TSA has gone too far.

"It has to be done," Rose Griffin said.

Fairfax's Gene Christie disagrees.

"I understand there's a security need but there's also common decency," he said.

Thirteen-year-old Raoul Rutter, whose family was flying to Armstrong Wednesday, said he thinks there should be some leeway when it comes to kids and airport security.

"For adults I think it's important because security is important, but for little girls who are scared of that, they should at least have their mother or father by their side," Raoul said.

The TSA said children have been used to carry explosives and released a statement supporting the agent, saying she followed proper screening procedures.

The policy on screening children has changed over the years. Agents are expected to use a modified pat-down on kids under age 12.

The statement said the agency will explore additional ways to move beyond a "one-size-fits-all system" while maintaining a high level of security.

"I see the pros and I see the cons, " traveler Lael Herbert said. "Kind of comes with the territory, unfortunately."

TSA officials said they are now reviewing their current policy to improve screening of low-risk travelers like children.

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