A Real Terror Threat: Boy Clings to Mom Through Airport Security

Elisabeth Meinecke
Posted: Dec 30, 2010 7:45 AM
While on a trip over the holidays, I had a chance to witness just how ineffective the random TSA patdowns are. As I cleared the metal detector and went to get my things off the conveyer belt, I noticed the family in front of me. There were four kids -- I would guess all under the age of 12 (one was in a stroller) -- and the mom and dad were frantically trying to repack all of the things they had been forced to unpack to get through security. The TSA agent -- a very nice lady -- was talking to the mother and the oldest boy.  It looked like, to me, the boy had been selected for a screening, because the TSA agent took the boy to the screening area with his mother in tow. The boy WOULD NOT let go of his mother, so the father was forced to try to take care of the three other children (two running around) and pack things up.  I wasn't sure if I could help or not, so as I packed up my things, I kept glancing at the family.  The same TSA agent was talking to the little boy, trying to help the situation, while it looked like another TSA agent performed the enhanced patdown.  I know there are TSA rules restricting enhanced patdowns for children under 12, so I'm not sure what the boy's age was (he looked younger), but it looked like an enhanced patdown to me.  Everyone looked like they did their job professionally, and they let the mother stay with the boy the whole time, probably because he was petrified and wouldn't let go of her (it sounded like he had had a bad experience in the past). 

Still, real security threat, no? A boy so scared he has to cling to his mother? Four children running around, and the parents desperately trying to get everything in order. Maybe the boy set off the metal detector -- I hadn't gone through security when they went through -- but it certainly looked like a case of mismanaged "random selection" to the observer. Let's put it this way -- I didn't feel an ounce safer.