Whether it’s removing a family from a flight because their 18-month-old is on a “no-fly” list, demanding that a 4-year-old get a pat-down because she hugged her grandmother, patting down an infant, evacuating a terminal because one parent passes a baby to the other without receiving a secondary screening, or screaming at the parents of a child with cerebral palsy, the TSA has shown time and again that it has a masterful touch when dealing with young children. That unique sensibility is definitely on display at the agency’s new site dedicated to educating children about security theater.
TSA Kids is the latest misguided effort from the Dept. of Homeland Security. It pretends to be an educational tool but it borders on self-parody.
The above video, which inexplicably uses cartoon dogs instead of humans, tries to boil down the entire airport security process to three steps — Stop, Screen, Go — but fails to mention the ways in which that process can be prolonged through re-screenings, pat-downs, hand swabs for chemical residues, manual inspections of carry-on bags.
It also provides no explanation to that question kids love to ask in just about any situation: “But why?” Little children are naturally curious (sometimes to a fault) and many will probably want to know why they have to have their backpacks go through the scanner or why mommy and daddy needed to take of their shoes but the kids didn’t (which, honestly, is a good question). The video provides no answers and is just an attempt to catch-phrase the airport screening process.
Then there are the amazing finds on the “Fun Page” — the name of which probably went through 10 different committees and working groups before being finalized.
Because kids love nothing more than coloring in pictures of expensive, outdated screening devices, the TSA provides them with this line drawing of a security checkpoint — complete with trash can and stacks of little bins for your money and keys. And there’s the friendly looking dog! Don’t you just want to pet him? Of course you do… but don’t, because it’ll probably result in that nice mustachioed man taking your dad into a dimly lit room for a few hours of questioning.
Then there’s the always fun Word Search, where kids get to hunt down words like “pipeline,” “port,” “cargo,” and “duty,” while also coloring in a drawing of a TSA agent who appears to be telling you to scram — or maybe directing you off to the side for a secondary screening.
And let’s not forget the color-in TSA badge. Because every kid is pining to be one of those people who just caused the family to miss their flight and now mommy and daddy hate each other and it’s all your fault.