If you're a mom, you've heard all the stories about kids being sexually molested by family members, doctors, and even crazy random strangers. Every mom addresses with their child that there are very few situations where it's okay for someone to look at or touch their genitals -- pretty much limited to helping them bathe or changing diapers, or doctors doing an exam, with a parent there.
Did you ever consider that TSA agents would need to be on that list? That you've got to explain to your child that this nice stranger in a public place has to touch their private parts? Even worse, they're being told to treat groping children like a game. Yes, because child molesters have never thought of that ...
Though there are claims that the new pat-downs don't apply to kids under 12, it's not clear in their new guidelines. TSA director James Marchand says:
You try to make it as best you can for that child to come through. If you can come up with some kind of a game to play with a child, it makes it a lot easier.
Brilliant, James. Of course! Let's teach children that as long as it's a game, it's okay for complete strangers to feel your entire body, including your genitals!
You've got to be insane. Look, I understand that patting down kids isn't easy. I get that the best way to get children to cooperate in any given situation is to make it fun for them. But this isn't saying, "Plaque monsters are eating your teeth, oh no! Let's get them!" This is really serious and entirely inappropriate.
The TSA's recommendation that children be told the pat-down is a "game" is potentially putting children in danger. Telling a child that they are engaging in a game is "one of the most common ways" that sexual predators use to convince children to engage in inappropriate contact. Children "don't have the sophistication" to distinguish between a pat-down carried out by an airport security officer and an assault by a sexual predator.
The TSA policy could "desensitize children to inappropriate touch and ultimately make it easier for sexual offenders to prey on our children.
Frankly, I would have thought that was common sense. What I also don't understand is if this pat-down isn't supposed to happen on small children, why are we seeing it? Also, why would this rule exist? If they were only patting down kids 12+, they're way beyond the "play a game" stage, so his own recommendation is contrary with the rules they claim exist but no one can find in writing.
There are 80,000 reported cases of sexual abuse of children every single year, with countless more that are never reported because children are told not to tell, or are too young to be able to.
Some of the recommendations for helping protect your children include:
- Telling children that if someone tries to touch your body and do things that make you feel funny, say NO to that person and tell me right away
- Teaching children that respect does not mean blind obedience to adults and to authority; for example, don't tell children to, "Always do everything the teacher or baby-sitter tells you to do"
And yet what would we teach our kids instead in a situation where they're forced to be groped by a stranger who is trying to make it fun, right in front of our faces, or even hold our screaming child while someone gropes them?
Whatever it teaches them, it's not good.
Yes, we need to protect people on planes, but this is one step away from security check-points on all our roads. Terrorists have bombed subways, yet are you getting groped every single day to get to work? I'm a Navy wife, and I've gone through the security check points to get onto military bases, even in higher "Terror Level" times, and I've been inside one of our nation's nuclear submarines, walking between missile tubes, without being asked to go through an ounce of what TSA is suggesting we do to thousands of children to allow them on an airplane.
There's got to be a common sense line that needs to be drawn here somewhere, but I know one thing for sure: Telling kids to engage in a game with a stranger where groping genitals becomes fun is sick and wrong.
Are you as disgusted by the suggestion as I am?
Image via christophe dune/Flickr