4-Year-Old Gets TSA Pat-Down Following Hug From Grandma

Kids today. They say and do the darndest things, even under the watchful eye of the Transportation Security Administration. So who knows what happens when your 4-year-old daughter gives grandma a hug at the airport security checkpoint. In addition to that peck on the cheek, a deadly weapon may have been exchanged.

A few readers have pointed to a story on Facebook, posted by a Montana mom who was flying home from Kansas with her two young children and their grandmother.

According to the poster, she and her kids got through the checkpoint without trouble but grandma had triggered the alarm. She went through the scanner again, but the screener could not firmly ID what was setting off the alarm, and grandma was asked to have a seat and wait for a pat-down.

This is when the 4-year-old ran over to give grandma a hug:

They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds. The Transportation Security Officers(TSO) who were present responded to this very simple action in the worst way imaginable.

First, a TSO began yelling at my child, and demanded she too must sit down and await a full body pat-down. I was prevented from coming any closer, explaining the situation to her, or consoling her in any way. My daughter, who was dressed in tight leggings, a short sleeve shirt and mary jane shoes, had no pockets, no jacket and nothing in her hands. The TSO refused to let my daughter pass through the scanners once more, to see if she too would set off the alarm. It was implied, several times, that my Mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter.

My child, who was obviously terrified, had no idea what was going on, and the TSOs involved still made no attempt to explain it to her. When they spoke to her, it was devoid of any sort of compassion, kindness or respect. They told her she had to come to them, alone, and spread her arms and legs. She screamed, “No! I don’t want to!” then did what any frightened young child might, she ran the opposite direction.

That is when a TSO told me they would shut down the entire airport, cancel all flights, if my daughter was not restrained. It was then they declared my daughter a “high-security-threat”.

Two TSOs were following her and again I was told to have no contact with my child. At this point, I was beyond upset, I disregarded what the TSO had said to me, and I ran to my daughter. I picked her up. I hugged her. I tried to comfort her…

I was forced to set my child down, they brought her into a side room to administer a pat-down, I followed. My sweet four-year-old child was shaking and crying uncontrollably, she did not want to stand still and let strangers touch her… A TSO began repeating that in the past she had “seen a gun in a teddy bear.” The TSO seemed utterly convinced my child was concealing a weapon, as if there was no question about it. Worse still, she was treating my daughter like she understood how dangerous this was, as if my daughter was not only a tool in a terrorist plot, but actually in on it. The TSO loomed over my daughter, with an angry grimace on her face, and ordered her to stop crying. When my scared child could not do so, two TSOs called for backup saying “The suspect is not cooperating.” The suspect, of course, being a frightened child. They treated my daughter no better than if she had been a terrorist…

A third TSO arrived to the scene, and showed no more respect than the first two had given. All three were barking orders at my daughter, telling her to stand still and cease crying. When she did not stop crying on command, they demanded we leave the airport. They claimed they could not safely check my daughter for dangerous items if she was in tears. I will admit, I lost my temper.

Finally, a manager intervened. He determined that my child could, in fact, be cleared through security while crying. I was permitted to hold her while the TSO checked her body. When they found nothing hidden on my daughter, they were forced to let us go, but not until after they had examined my ID and boarding passes for a lengthy amount of time. When we arrived at our gate, I noticed that the TSOs had followed us through the airport. I was told something was wrong with my boarding pass and I would have to show it to them again. Upon seeing the TSO, my daughter was thrown into hysterics. Eventually, we were able to board our flight.

After reading this story, we contacted the TSA to see whether or not the TSOs followed the correct procedure for handling this situation. Here is what the agency had to say:

TSA has recently implemented modified screening procedures of children 12 and under that further reduce — though not eliminate — the need for a physical pat-down for children. In this case, however, the child had completed screening but had contact with another member of her family who had not completed the screening process. TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper current screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child.


Edit Your Comment

  1. az123 says:

    I put this one fully on the OP, people need to control their kids… I know a 4 year old does not understand the security thing and why she cannot go see grandma, but that is who Mom needs to keep the kid under control and doing what she is suppose to and where she is suppose to be.

    Sorry, parents need to do the job of parents and not complain about what happens when they fail to.

    • Marlin says:

      Let me guess, no kids yourself?

      • az123 says:

        Actually I have 2 kids and I am one of those silly people who actually make them behave and do not let them do stuff just because they want to. I actually hate parents who do not keep any control because it basically makes everyone assume hell will break loose just because my kids are there.

        If Mom had any sense she would have just gone a bit down the hall sat with the kids and waited for grandma to come through… a busy security check point area is not a place to be hanging around with kids

        • SkokieGuy says:

          Do tell, when your child starts crying, exactly how do you “make them behave”? What is your parenting secret?

          • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

            Apparently screaming at them is fine. Oh, and az123 never lets their child do anything they shouldn’t, and has them within arm’s reach every second.

            (As a parent, I have little patience for kids who are out of control, but for some reason a 4-year old running over to hug Grandma doesn’t strike me as a kid that’s out of control.)

            • blueman says:

              az123 no doubt agrees with Duke from Doonesbury: “There are few child care problems that can’t be solved with duct tape”

          • mikedt says:

            I’m thinking taser. After all, you only need to use it once or twice, after that the mere threat…..

          • GOInsanity says:

            I’m thinking the idea is you make the child behave before it gets to the people yelling at her and her crying stage. I’m sorry, but if you are in a busy airport with a 4 year old, are you really going to let her just run away from you? Are you the parent that needs a leash for your child?

          • GOInsanity says:

            I’m thinking the idea is you make the child behave before it gets to the people yelling at her and her crying stage. I’m sorry, but if you are in a busy airport with a 4 year old, are you really going to let her just run away from you? Are you the parent that needs a leash for your child?

            • GOInsanity says:

              Sorry about the double post, computer showed an error and I didn’t hit refresh to see if the post had actually gone through before hitting subit again.

            • runswithscissors says:

              Children have this amazing knack for darting away very quickly. And they are fast. So unless you maintain an iron hand grip on them at all times (impossible while trying to re-assemble everything after security) OR you use of those ridiculous kid leashes, then there will be times when little billy or sally darts over to Grandma without permission or a chance to stop them.

              Try to think these things through before you spout off authoritatively on the internet, k?

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          So, knowing all you do about the TSA, the thefts, pornography arrests and abuse of power they exhibit, would have your 4 year old child submit to a strange adult barking orders like your child is an adult that understands what and why it’s happening.

          I’m sorry, but you’re really stupid if you would have your child submit to orders from strangers because they act authoritative. It’s a fucking 4 year old child!

        • RogerX says:

          That’s right. Sit down and shut up. Be a good citizen and let the good government employees give you your freedom grope.


        • Kate says:

          Um, did you see the part where she wasn’t allowed to get near her kid?

        • Cat says:

          i have been uncharacteristically quiet today, but for you,asshole, I break my silence.

          FUCK YOU

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Are you dumb?

          Let’s paint the picture for you: Mom goes through security line, followed immediately by her child, then grandma. Grandma gets held up while mother and child wait, together, assuming she will take only seconds to pass through like 99.9999999% of people. Child, trying to console her grandmother, or just because, runs over and hugs her, who is at most 20 ft away. fomr the child at the time.

          This is a CHILD, who does not understand that for this very unique and rare instance, you’re not allowed to hug your grandmother. How could a child possibly understand this? Children are taught not to run through a street, but who teaches them not to run to their grandmother 20 ft away?

          Copying MrMcgoo…. Fool or troll?

        • NickJames says:

          Let’s hope your child keeps calm and reacts obediently next time a stranger in a white van drives by his sandbox.

        • lagotech says:

          Just change your name to “Azzhole123” you have proven yourself worthy.

        • Kuri says:

          So your kids are just perfect little mini-adults.

        • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

          People like you make me want abortion to be retroactive.

        • Lori c says:

          Fyi, her mother was trying to get her things through security and help her six year old son get his things together and my four year old granddaughter was only a few feet away from me. my daughter is a very attentive,good mother so quit trying to make this her fault. No matter what, the tsa was in the wrong! They treated her worse than an animal

          • Magister says:

            You’re the Grandmother? My heart goes out to the little girl.

            Otherwise, because a couple of (likely childless) people have taken the “restrain” approach, I wonder if you’d share whether the young lady is in daycare or someplace where she is cared for by a non-family member and could have formed detachment.

            Also, a litttle more light on the “mother can speak to her thing” would be appreciated.

            The only thing I believe that I may have done differently is ignore the agents sooner — there really isn’t much TSA could have done in this situation except cost someone their flight and society would surely make that up — but it also could have been more quickly resolved if the agents had allowed your daughter to reassure the kid and instruct her to stand still, but the Facebook post makes that sound like it was out of the question.

            Again, I’m sure the young lady will be okay. She might just choose not to fly.

      • MrEvil says:

        No kidding, I’m not a parent but even I understand children better than these TSA dickheads.

        Oh yeah Jackass, great job, yell at the crying child MORE that’s going to solve EVERYTHING!

        Does the government like implant some kind of chip in someone’s head when they take a job at the TSA? Y’know, a chip that turns an otherwise reasonable person into an unreasonable dickhead?

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          You do realize that most people who take jobs as cops, security, etc are seeking a position simply because they ENJOY having power over others? Yes, some are there to make the world a better place, but most of them are scumbags and dickheads.

          • HogwartsProfessor says:

            I wouldn’t say most. The majority of LEOs I know are decent people. Some, yes, but not most. Consider also the people they have to work with on a daily basis. There are scumbags and dickheads on both sides. But you’ll still call them when you need them, won’t you?

            As for the TSA…pizza box recruiting isn’t exactly gonna get you the cream of the crop. The background check my bf went through for a federal job was insane. I would like to see what they do for this job.

            • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

              TSA are not LEOs. . You comment is irrelevant.

              • HogwartsProfessor says:

                No, they aren’t, but Oranges was generalizing about cops and security guards. So it was relevant.

      • watchwhathappens says:

        please don’t go there. just please don’t. people who don’t have children aren’t monsters who don’t understand how children function. I don’t have children and I think this is appalling. but please, just no.

    • Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

      Are you not a fucking human?

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      Yes, the “security officers” screaming at a 4-year old and claiming not to be able to do their job because the child was crying was totally the OP’s fault.


    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      Troll or fool…Which one are you?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      There is a point at which yes, I agree with you – however once the deed was done and the child had contact with her Grandmother, TSA and these officers in particular were out of line.
      Most children under 5 or 6 CANNOT COMPREHEND security procedures, violence or other things that would lead the TSA to react in this way.
      As far as the child was concerned, they were being confronted angrily by a stranger they did not know and reacted in (what I view) as appropriate childish reaction. I would hope that if I had kids they’d be smart enough to run away from strangers in a situation like this.

      Given that the mother was not given the opportunity to intervene the child’s reaction was totally instinctual. As you stated, without parental intervention children rarely behave as expected.

      • Jane_Gage says:

        That’s why they are perfect weapons mules. They don’t have to act innocent, they are innocent.

        • Velvet Jones says:

          Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Yes, the family with children and grandma in tow were really dastardly terrorists, using the four year old as cover. I hope to god you never have children, lest you spread your stupidity on to the next generation.

          • Jane_Gage says:

            . . ./s

          • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

            Please don’t reproduce, you clearly lack the gene necessary to detect clear and obvious sarcasm…

            • Velvet Jones says:

              See, the problem is that this post was written without any sort of wit to it, so sarcasm is tough to detect. The Daily Mail has a story on this incident this morning. Check the comments section. This same type of statement is made several times, and you can tell that the posters are dead serious. Too many morons watch “24” and think it is a documentary.

        • FredKlein says:

          Weapons mule?

          Exactly how many weapons did the kid have in her “tight leggings, a short sleeve shirt and mary jane shoes”?!?

          This reminds me of cases where the TSA insists on ‘patting down’ bare skin. Because you might have an invisible gun strapped to your arm with invisible tape or something.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      God forbid my child hug their grandmother without warning.

      And then my child doesn’t stop crying on command?

    • Kuri says:

      So basically your children are raised to just be miniature adults.

    • Cerne says:

      A four year old hugging her grandma is doing what she’s supposed to do.

      • Jane_Gage says:

        I would have the AARP operative and the crotch fruit tazed before they exchanged the nerve gas canister. TSA needs to put me on the payroll.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Tell me you’re not an idiot. Tell me.

    • runswithscissors says:

      You’re either a troll, an internet contrarian, an idiot, or human garbage. Can’t figure out which yet.

    • El_Red says:


      Children cannot be controlled 100% of the time. And, it is one thing to run a kid through a security check another time. However, screaming at a child is unacceptable. (Actually screaming at people is unacceptable, point.)

      • alana0j says:

        Oh but you can control your kid 100% of the time..just takes a little sedative….

        On a serious note, as the mother of a four year old, I would’ve gone to jail for some serious ass kicking to those TSA assholes.

        • Daniel Svoboda says:

          As the uncle of four nephews and one niece, I would have been in the next cell over for the same offense, Alana. This is reprehensible.

        • DoubleShortMILF says:

          Woulda been right there with you. This is disgusting. They couldn’t just send the kid through the metal detector again? Let the child’s mother at least comfort her? These TSOs… I can’t even find the words to say how angry I am on behalf of this mother and child. The child is obviously traumatized.

          I’d be on the no-fly list if this happened to either of my children.

    • Jawaka says:

      I agree. People are going to disagree with you and call you an idiot but these will generally be the ones that are unable to control their kids.

      • Kestris says:

        Here’s a tip- I have no kids and I still disagree with the original commentor.

        The mother was NOT allowed to restrain her child. So therefor, it’s in no way her fault for what occured. THat’s all on the TSA agents who overreacted and went to extremes with a 4 yr old who was obviously traumatized.

    • Aria Clements says:

      You’re a moron. She should have been told to walk through the metal detector, and when it didn’t go off, that should have been the end of it.

      The TSA have become a bunch of child-molestors. When another method would suffice (walking through the metal detector), then there is no need to put your hand at the crotch of a child and rub her body all over, making her into a victim. If I did that to your child, I’d be tossed in jail.

      Also as any parent knows, kids sometimes break loose. You do your best to control them, but it happens sometimes anyway. Shy of leashing our kids every moment we’re in public, there is no way to guarantee it won’t happen.

      • JennQPublic says:

        The TSA may have been authority-drunk douchebags, or they may have just been following policy so they didn’t risk losing their jobs. Either way, your sexualizing this situation is disgusting, and the comparison of a child having a bad experience with a security screening to being molested is outrageous. TSA employees who are following policy instead of deciding who should and shouldn’t have to follow the rules aren’t akin to pedophiles.

        News Flash: If you let your kids run around doing whatever they want, sometimes there are unpleasant consequences. If the kid had gone tearing into a parking lot to hug grandma, the consequences could have been much worse.

        • thaJack says:

          Molest (verb): Pester or harass (someone), typically in an aggressive or persistent manner.

          I’d call the TSA child molesters, sure.

          • JennQPublic says:

            “…There is no need to put your hand at the crotch of a child and rub her body all over, making her into a victim.”

            This comment does not appear to be using ‘molest’ in the sense of the definition you gave. You’re being intentionally obtuse.

            Which do you think would be more psychologically damaging to a child- a quick pat-down by a bored security guard, or her mother crying and telling her she was a “victim” of molestation?

            • Mrs. w/1 child says:

              Definitely a TSA creature touching your crotch and yelling at you.

              Her Mother is just being honest, her daughter was molested. Next time you are in a public venue, would you “feel” (since you refuse to acknowledge the concrete definition of words and prefer to relate emotionally) worse if some low IQ thug rubbed her hands all over you including your crotch and breasts or would you feel worse if your Mother acknowledged that you were in fact just molested?

              • JennQPublic says:

                Since everyone knows what is required at a TSA checkpoint, this mother is a terrible, awful person for knowingly subjecting her child to sexual molestation. In fact, every parent who has attempted to fly with their children since 9/11 should be arrested, as they are obviously enabling TSA pedophiles to victimize their children.

                OMG, won’t someone think of the chlidren!?

                • 2 Replies says:

                  No matter how immature you (a grown(?) adult) will act by being snippy, snide and sarcastic.

                  A crying 4 year old is not a terrorist threat.

                  • JennQPublic says:

                    Perhaps not, but we all know the rules of the security theater, and mommy’s little angel doesn’t get a free pass just because she’s crying.

                    It sucks, but it’s not quite in the same class as child molestation or the holocaust.

                    Perspective, people. Get some.

                    • Theoncomingstorm says:

                      Perhaps you should heed your own advice.

                    • JennQPublic says:

                      I’m so sorry, I have this perspective that child molestation is kind of a big deal, and it’s kind of one of the worst things on this planet. Seeing someone compare a thirty-second pat down by a veritable rent-a-cop to an act that devastates children and alters the course of their lives leaves me disgusted and outraged. At least, disgusted and outraged enough to post an Internet comment.

                      I guess next time I see someone taking a downward spiral into drugs as an adult because they were sexually abused as children, I should remind them it could be worse- they could have been patted down by the TSA because mommy couldn’t hold on to their hand in an airport.

        • Mrs. w/1 child says:

          Except it actually is sexual molestation if a complete stranger touches your body. Especially if you are 4 years old and unable to understand what is happening or provide consent.

          History Lesson: Once upon a time there was a governing document called “The Constitution of the United States”. Amendments were made to the Constitution, commonly referred to as “The Bill of Rights”. Amendment IV (4) states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

          So, let me ask you…Do you consider molesting – um, sorry- using your hands to touch every part of a 4 year old body an “unreasonable search”? Even when there is a metal detector a few feet away? Why do adults working for the TSA feel the compulsion to fondle children? Does our society have a word for this compulsion?

          Extra Credit History Question: Clearly you think the TSA is comprised of individuals trying to do their jobs (even when their job encourages molestation and pedophilia). Rephrased another way, they are “just following orders”. What other historical population of people were simply “following orders” even when those orders were abhorrent, morally wrong, and resulted in the suffering of millions of people?

          Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers sweetie – most people who went to public school are not able to think critically or morally. Let me dumb it down and make it easy for you to understand. If your supervisor at work told you that touching every part of a hysterical four year olds body was required to stop terrorism and a condition of further employment, would you do it?

          • JennQPublic says:

            When you are four years old and unable to consent, your parents consent for you when they take you to a TSA checkpoint. Armed men did not force this family into an airport, they knew what they were getting into when they bought the tickets. They consented to be searched, it’s that simple. Their ‘rights’ were not violated.

            And Nazis? Really??

            I wouldn’t apply to work for the TSA- I’m too smart for that. But that’s kind of my point. Minimum-wage security guards (like TSA workers) do not have the luxury of using their discretion to determine when and to whom policy should and should not be applied. Sorry if someone’s precious little snowflake got caught up in that, but if having one’s child searched is completely unthinkable, then don’t take them on an airplane.

            Honestly, most of us would not complain if a woman who couldn’t control her toddler at a security checkpoint did not bring that kid on our plane.

    • FredKlein says:

      Mom needs to keep the kid under control

      What part of “I was told to have no contact with my child” don’t you understand?

  2. Kate says:

    If the procedure makes the problem worse not better, it’s a faulty and useless procedure – has Consumerist bothered to re-contact TSA to ask about that?

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Please … Consumerist staff … call back to the TSA and give them another chance to make a more appropriate comment explaining why it is one of their TSOs behaved in a manner outside the scope of their procedures for doing security checks, and acted in a way towards a small child that ordinary citizens could be arrested and charged with assault for. Then ask them what kinds of disciplinary action and retraining will be done with this TSO.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      I think the TSA’s response missed the point entirely. It likely wouldn’t have been a big deal that the child needed a pat-down if the security agents had some common sense (or decency) and allowed the mother to help explain to the child what was going on. In other words, exactly what the supervisor finally allowed them to do when he showed up.

      Instead they simply yelled at her and asked her to follow directions that a 4-year-old was not likely to take from a complete stranger. Yelling at her to stop crying?

  3. amuro98 says:

    Aren’t security checkpoints under video surveillance? Get the tape, a lawyer, and a million bucks.

    • Tunnen says:

      I’m sorry, but the video evidence can only be used against you. If you’d like to use it against them, it’ll go missing or be misplaced, perhaps it was accidentally overwritten, or can not be given to you as it’s deemed a National Security issue or violates their privacy (Oh, the Irony! =P)

      Please try again.

  4. Darrone says:

    Stranger Danger*

    Unless that stranger is a $10 an hour TSA agent, hired without a background check.

    • impatientgirl says:

      This is why we’ve decided that we’re not flying anywhere that we can’t drive. We recently spent two extra days driving to TX so we wouldn’t have to fly. If we’re going to Europe then of course we’ll fly, but yeah, that’s about it. Family vacation to the West Coast? Nope. We’ll go somewhere closer.

  5. richard_toronto says:

    Nice work again, ‘Murica.
    When are you sheeple going to wake up and demand this security theatre end?

    A handgun on a plane? Big whoop – no terrorist is going to bother with that – they know the passengers won’t hesitate again to stop a highjacking.

    Wake up.

    • funnymonkey says:

      I’d love to know what we, the sheeple, are supposed to do to end security theater? Fighting with TSA agents does no good – they’re $10/hr rent-a-cops who have no actual say in what procedures are set for them to follow. Also, it’s hard to stage a protest, since generally you are at the airport to get on a flight, not get arrested. Should we all be buying plane tickets just to miss the flight and stage a protest? Even most members of Congress seem to think that the TSA is out of line, and yet they are still there, doing nothing but inconveniencing people.

      The lack of consistency, the ineffectiveness of the procedures, the general uselessness of the TSA has been reported and confirmed over and over again, and yet they’re still here.

      I was told to go through one of the full-body scanners in Ft. Myers, FL. When I told them that I was pregnant (I was early in my first trimester and not really showing) and didn’t want to go through it, they acted like I was a suspect. “You know the consequences of refusing right?” said one. “It’s just radio waves!” said another. They don’t know what they’re even enforcing.

      I got the pat-down from a woman who was doing her best to be pleasant about the whole thing and it was terrible. But, what is there to do about it? I wanted to get on the plane and get home and no amount of arguing – or pointing out that if I had chosen a different line none of it would happen – would have done any good.

      Should I complain to my senator? Should I complain to the TSA? I just don’t see any of that working.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Even most members of Congress seem to think that the TSA is out of line, and yet they are still there, doing nothing but inconveniencing people.

        This is because congress-critters DON’T GO THROUGH TSA when they fly.

      • Bill610 says:

        I share your pain. Personally, I don’t fly unless it’s the ONLY way to get somewhere in time for something I have to do (which has meant not flying for several years, including driving sixteen hours one way to do mission work). Not flying helps to “starve the beast”, and also keeps me from witnessing/being a in a situation like the one described here, where I would probably either end up in jail or ashamed to do something that would land me in jail.

        As someone who tries to “love your enemies”, it pains me to say this, but I think the other practical thing we can do is to let anyone we know who works for the TSA know what we think of their participation in the destruction of our Constitution. Don’t let your kids play with their kids; don’t invite them to social events; even if you just see someone wearing a TSA uniform in line someplace, tell them you hope they can find a respectable job someday. You can’t be locked up (yet) for expressing your disgust for what they’re doing to our country, and if enough of them decide that having the loathing of a nation directed at them isn’t worth $10 per hour, something will have to give.

        • Bill610 says:

          Correction: end of first paragraph should have said “…ashamed I didn’t do something that would have landed me in jail.”

        • Jane_Gage says:

          You’re probably just driving up costs for those of us who have business in two different states that necessitates travel. The demand will always be there.

        • Mrs. w/1 child says:

          Yes! Social pressure is particularly effective with women. No play dates, invitations to coffee, or community support until she (or her Husband) stops violating the Constitution.

      • dush says:

        We all need to suck it up and just stop flying. Hitting the airline pocketbook is the only thing that will change this. Our government doesn’t care about its citizens, only the corporate lobbyists. I suspect if we all had shared sacrifice of even just one month blank out of no one buying plane tickets and no one going to airports we would see drastic change.
        Personally I just don’t fly anymore and thankfully don’t have a job that forces me to fly. I’m not going to pay money for this.

      • fs2k2isfun says:

        You should complain to your senator, the TSA, and anyone who will listen. It may not work today, it may not work tomorrow, but eventually things will change.

      • Shadowfire says:

        You don’t need a ticket to go to security, just to go through it. A sit in at the security line could be quite effective given enough people.

      • Mrs. w/1 child says:

        1) Stop flying. Disney world (and other corporations) have more power to end this nonsense when their business is tanking because no one will travel. Every time you decide to go somewhere close on vacation, make sure you let the corporations who are not getting your hard earned money know why.

        2) Elect actual representatives instead of stooges and flunkies. Ron Paul has publicly and repeatedly stated that he would eliminate the TSA.

        I wouldn’t get arrested or protest at the air port – you will just rack up legal fees and a criminal record. Simply stop paying your money to the airlines and all the businesses that make money off of air travel (car rental places by the airport, vacation destinations, livery services, etc.) If the majority of people in the U.S. refused to fly until the TSA was disbanded and flights were 70% empty and the airlines and other businesses would find a way to get rid of the TSA. Money talks.

        Scype is your I-refuse-to-fly friend and it’s free!

  6. Mike says:

    Wow, I paid 3 adults to scream at a 4 year old girl until she cried. I feel so much safer now.

    • Razor512 says:

      she could have been crying because her plans to destroy the world were ruined due to the pat down (especially considering that if you do a TSA style pat down on a kid while not a TSA worker, you will end up in a cage and also on a special list)

  7. dulcinea47 says:

    This is a situation where between being an asshole and being a decent human being makes all the difference. Needing to re-screen the kid is fine. Treating a four year old like a murder suspect is not fine.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      but, but they totally saw a hand gun in a teddy bear that one time

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        I’d make a large wager that never happened to that particular TSO.

        • Bill610 says:

          Really? I think it’s entirely possible that they were drunk or delusional, and “saw” exactly what they said they did.

      • Bunnies Attack! says:

        Which may or may not have actually been a training video. Which actually may or may not have been on youtube. Which actually may or may not have been a clip from a USA network made-for-tv movie.

    • tundey says:

      You are right that “Treating a four year old like a murder suspect is not fine.” I’ll add that treating *everyone* like a murder suspect is not fine either. Until we get that right, the occasional kid and grandma will get treated like this.

  8. tundey says:

    I put this on the entire US population. This is what we get when we foolishly trade our rights for the false promise of security. Yeah it sucks that 4-year olds are being treated like criminals by TSA agents but it’s just as bad that we are all treated that way. Either we all have rights and deserve to not have our constitutional rights trampled upon or everybody gets the pat down. Even little kids and grandmas.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Ben Franklin

      I did not volunteer my liberty for security theater. It was taken from me systematically despite my advocacy and votes to the contrary.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      This is why I opt out and cause them as much hassle as I can when I fly. No sheep here, buddy.

  9. dolemite says:

    “who was dressed in tight leggings”. Mmm-hmmm. We know what really “set off” the TSA grope squad.

  10. scottr0829 says:

    “That is when a TSO told me they would shut down the entire airport, cancel all flights, if my daughter was not restrained. It was then they declared my daughter a “high-security-threat”.”

    I would have said “you do what you have to do” and then dealt through the media with the circus that ensues when the real story gets out.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:


      Although, the Mom was probably to upset seeing her child scared to have thought that through.

    • jbandsma says:

      The kid has to be restrained…but you can’t touch her. Yeah, right…like I’m going to let YOU restrain my child? I’d think again if I were you.

  11. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    Oh for the love of


  12. cowboyesfan says:

    They are lucky the kid didn’t spend the night in jail.

  13. Vox Republica says:

    Harrumph, stories like this make me so angry‚Äîbut wait! The TSA’s own Blogger Bob is going to post another waaaaacky collection of things that people tried to smuggle through security! Ha ha, what jocularity and mirth! See, they’re decent people after all! Certainly we are not subject to the whims of GED-toting dullards that are only ever held accountable for bad behavior when they commit crimes not germane to the position!

  14. rockelscorcho says:

    You gonna get touched!

  15. bugpaste says:

    I’m not at all surprised. In 2002 I was about to board a commuter flight from San Jose to Ontario, CA (total flight time, under an hour) and a six-year-old girl was chosen randomly for rescreening at the gate. The TSA agents forced her mother to board the plane without her and screened the girl in full view of all the other passengers. Both she and her mother were shaking and sobbing.

    At least they let the girl keep her teddy bear, now that we know it possibly could have contained a loaded gun. (Here’s a good way to see if a stuffed toy contains a gun: if a six-year-old can hold it over her head while you’re patting her down, it’s too light to have a gun for innards. Just saying.)

    • travel_nut says:

      Maybe that terrorist kid has been bench-pressing in preparation for such an occurrence!


    • El_Red says:

      Isn’t that illegal? I would assume screening or questioning a child without a parent present would be illegal in USA, too.(It is in Canada).

      Plus, it is not the screening that is the problem; it’s the way it is done.

      Reading these articles, I am lucky I never fly to USA. I never seen any unprofessional behaviour in any international airports, up until now. (And this was several European countries + Canada + Cuba).

      • sweaterhogans says:

        Surprisingly, I’ve only had problems in foreign countries (Canada especially). Luckily, the airports closest to me don’t seem to use the body scanner or molestings. But, I was groped in London, forced to opt-out (with a bit of a fight) in the Netherlands, and harassed and questioned every time I’ve flown or driven through Canada. Other countries have got on board with the body scanners, and they are now mandatory in Australia. This is not a US problem, but a global one.

  16. Lyn Torden says:

    If the TSA can’t even comment about this properly, then it’s time to shut down the whole TSA.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      The did comment. Apparently having three agents berate a four year old is “following proper procedure”. Are you not glad to have such a fine upstanding agency protecting America’s “Freedom”. Just think, the TSA is spreading its wings as we speak. They’re now on buses, highways, and subways.

  17. DoraAreGames says:

    You know, it sucks, and I’m sure the little girl was not a terrorist or anything but… to be honest, your kid is not worth someone’s job. Regardless of how stupid it seems, the TSA agent is following the rules put forth to them by their employer, and I can guarantee you they’re not going to risk being written up or fined or even fired because of your child. I believe they could have handled it better to keep the kid from getting upset, but once she started “screaming and crying and running away”, it was the parents’ job to get her in line rather than getting upset themselves and making the girl think there really was something for her to be afraid of.

    Again, I’m not saying the TSA behaved correctly here, just that the family clearly wasn’t helping matters. Leave if you have to and file a complaint after. Get badge numbers and names. Just don’t feed into the hysteria. I’m sorry the kid and her family went through this, but it seems like a lot of the terror could have been avoided with some restraint on the parents’ parts.

    • dolemite says:

      You know, we did very well without the TSA for about 80 years.

      • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

        …AND the only bombers caught were caught by passengers AFTER they passed through TSA.

    • sagodjur says:

      You seem to have missed the part where the mother was told not to go to her daughter. How do you restrain a child from a distance? Yelling from the agents didn’t seem to work too well.

      • DoraAreGames says:

        You don’t need to physically restrain your child to keep them in check. All I’m saying is that the parents were clearly upset themselves and her seeing them like that (losing their temper and acting distraught) probably only made her even more frightened. CLEARLY the TSA could have handled it better, but all I’m saying is if I’m in a situation where I’m told by my boss that I have a procedure to follow, I’m going to follow it because what someone else feels is silly is not worth my job. They should have been nicer to the kid, and I’m sure I would have been terrified too, but her family shouldn’t have fed into her hysteria, and I would have left that terminal with everything I needed to file a formal complaint instead of making a traumatic event even worse.

        • Mark702 says:

          The TSA is a massively expensive boondoggle that we the taxpayers are paying for. We pay to have morons with no brains molest us and our children under the guise of “security” which is actually just security theater. The TSA is a multi-billion dollar colossal failure and should be completely abolished. Both Obama and Romney are big government goons, and they support the corrupt Patroit Act and the failure of the TSA. They could both be considered Bush the 3rd for how abysmal their positions are. Only Ron Paul advocates to abolish the Patroit Act and the TSA, saving tens of BILLIONS of dollars in the process. Only Ron Paul advocate for peace, prosperity, and LIBERTY.

        • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

          So if you bring your child to work, and your boss starts yelling at her, yells at you to get away from her, and demands that she come into his office so he can search her for weapons, would you just stand by and tell her to behave and submit?

        • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

          Christ, are you a moron.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      You can keep your job just as easily working politely with the family instead of treating them like they just committed a murder.

    • travel_nut says:

      Maybe if the TSA hadn’t tried to isolate her from her family and intimidate her, she would have been more compliant and this whole farce could have been avoided.

      In the end, her mother was allowed to hold her for the screening. Why couldn’t they do that in the first place? Because they were on a power trip, that’s why.

    • Bill610 says:

      My kid is worth far more than someone’s job, especially when that “job” consists of going through the motions of ineffective security procedures that nonetheless violate our rights, and have never actually stopped a terrorist.

    • some.nerd says:

      If someone tried to do that to my daughter, you can bet your ass I’d do everything possible to make them regret it!

    • Fisher1949 says:

      Like what, drug her? What a stupid opinion.

      She’s four years old for God’s sake and a bunch of strangers are groping her. How anyone with a braoin can blame the [parent is beyond me and anyone capable of critical thought.

  18. attackgypsy says:

    At this point, I would be contacting a lawyer and filing a lawsuit for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” on yourself and you child. Poor thing is probably traumatized by now.

  19. He says:

    Happened to me in February. I opted out of the body image scanner at DCA after my wife and one year old went though the metal detector first. Wife was distracted with 3 bags at once (baby stuff) and the one year is a one year old so she was lost and about to get stepped on by somebody. I gave her a guiding finger (literally) to get her over to mom before I had my pat down so they patted my baby down too in case I passed her something in their full view with my finger. I didn’t really care, the guy obviously wasn’t a perv, they’re just trained to assume that we’re all dastardly magicians who can pass elephants to babies with an ET-like gesture.

  20. geargutz says:

    If I was the parent of this child. I would have been tazed, arrested, and facing at least 2 assault charges after I laid out those guards, but I’m confident those charges would never see trial.

    • feistydonut says:

      Man no kidding, I would be livid, a parent’s job is to protect their children and seeing someone treating my kid like that and I’d do enough to make sure everyone else in line whips out their cellphone to film.

    • dolemite says:

      NEIN! You WILL treat your officers with respect at all times and present papers in an orderly fashion citizen!

    • compuchris78 says:

      Amen to that. Just reading the story got my blood pressure up thinking about it happening to one of my kids.

      As soon as TSA commanded me what to do, I would have informed them where they could shove it, and leave the screening area WITH child. We can travel another day.

      • jbandsma says:

        No, you’d have been taken to jail. Once you are in the security area, you aren’t allowed to leave without being ‘screened’. If you try, the cops will be called and you will spend time behind bars.

  21. dcarrington01 says:

    We have so lost…….

  22. feistydonut says:

    What’s a good way to find out up front the policy on groping children? I’d like to know beforehand how I can keep the tsa’s hands off my kid as I don’t know who they are and we teach kids nowadays to fight back when someone does something like that. Man I’m going to be on the news someday for telling them to keep their fucking hands off my child.

  23. Sad Sam says:

    Without video, I’m inclined to assume the Mom is a cry baby melodramatic Mom based on the drama included in that posting. But since its the TSA, I believe her, I find the entire agency and every representative I ever dealt with to be incompetent, arrogant and mean. They have, on numerous occasions, put my belonging at risk because I refuse to go through the scanners. I’ve generally figured out how to deal with them now, but I am very careful and direct and I will not submit to the pat down until my belongings are with me.

    In this situation, the mother should have told the TSA agent in no uncertain terms that she would be with her child and would indeed touch her child during any further screening to the extent it was necessary and further explain that if she, the mom, needed to undergo additional screening she would do so.

  24. Lyn Torden says:

    According to TSAs own web site:

    Security officers will approach children gently and treat them with respect. If a child becomes uncomfortable or upset, security officers will consult parents about the best way to relieve the child’s concern.

    Well that obviously didn’t happen in this case. TSA needs to explain TWO things now:

    1. Why their TSO failed to follow procedures.
    2. Why they provided misinformation in their previous explanation.

    • feistydonut says:

      Except that according to their response, they DID follow procedures and nothing wrong happened on their part.

      “TSA has recently implemented modified screening procedures of children 12 and under that further reduce ‚Äî though not eliminate ‚Äî the need for a physical pat-down for children. In this case, however, the child had completed screening but had contact with another member of her family who had not completed the screening process. TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper current screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child. ‚Äù

  25. blueman says:


    Yeah, that’ll work.

  26. Not Given says:

    When I was in first grade I fell and skinned my knee at recess. My teacher whispered to me if I didn’t stop crying she would give me something to cry about. Mom got her discliplined by the school board. Nowadays you can put little kids in jail for being kids.

  27. Mark702 says:

    The TSA is a massively expensive boondoggle that we the taxpayers are paying for. We pay to have morons with no brains molest us and our children under the guise of “security” which is actually just security theater. The TSA is a multi-billion dollar colossal failure and should be completely abolished. Both Obama and Romney are big government goons, and they support the corrupt Patroit Act and the failure of the TSA. They could both be considered Bush the 3rd for how abysmal their positions are. Only Ron Paul advocates to abolish the Patroit Act and the TSA, saving tens of BILLIONS of dollars in the process. Only Ron Paul advocate for peace, prosperity, and LIBERTY.

  28. atomoverride says:

    there were 2 ways to handle this. and they just chose the worst way to go. Next time have a heart, you repensent the united states buck up and think before you act.

  29. brinks says:

    I’m terrible at dealing with kids, but even I know that screaming at a crying, terrified kid will only make them cry louder. Even if you don’t like kids, you should still be able to muster up an ounce of compassion when dealing with them.

  30. zombie_batch says:

    Law enforcement causes another kid to grow up with extreme hatred for authority. Mission accomplished.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Not to nit-pick, but TSOs are NOT law enforcement. They have no law enforcement powers and they are not permitted to detain or arrest you. They have less authority than the average mall guard. That is what makes their little power trips all the more amusing.

  31. SwaggeringCuban says:



  32. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    And this is the government we “trust” to keep us safe, guard our civil liberties, provide for the common good and fight for truth, justice and the American way?

  33. Kuri says:

    They beleive that each and every single one of us is a terrorist that has not been caught yet.

  34. NumberSix says:

    I hate the TSA.

  35. Fisher1949 says:

    Does anyone really believe that the airplanes were made safer by molesting this child? The only ones who do are fools and cowards. How many times do these things have to happen before Congress demands replacement of this agency?

    There were a total of 84 TSA workers arrested in the last 16 months including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 25 for theft and even one for murder. Crime and abuse is so widespread in TSA that even Kip Hawley, the last TSA Director, has called for its overhaul.

    This just demonstrates how stupid and sick the whole TSA approach is and why it needs to be overhauled. TSA has done more damage to our liberty, way of life and morality than Al Qaeda could have ever hoped to do.

  36. oldwiz65 says:

    TSA just loves fondling and making children miserable; it’s a lot easier to make a child break down and cry than it is to do it to an adult.

    And they needed THREE adults to cope with one crying 4 year old? This shows they are incompetent beyond belief.

    The TSA is more of a threat to people than the Taliban or any other terrorist group.

    And wasn’t a TSA agent recently arrested for involvement in a kiddie porn ring?

  37. Big Dave says:

    Step ONE: The second the daughter is seized, the mother calls 911 and demands a police officer at the scene immediately. Step TWO: Mother and mother refuse any further cooperation with TSA until cops arrive. Step THREE: TSA, in front of the cops, and on the record, says specifically why they are re-screening this kid and what they expect to find. Step FOUR:TSA finds nothing. Family goes on their way. Step FIVE: Mommy files multimillion dollar lawsuit, using police reports and TSA security footage as evidence. Judge thinks about it for 2 nanoseconds and finds in mommy’s favor. TSA issues report saying nobody understands what a crack unit they are and how they protect us from dangerous terrorists like this thousands of times a day. WIn-Win as far as TSA is concerned.

  38. Fanning says:

    We should start a petition that requires TSA screens who screen children are qualified to interact with children meaning they are required to have a masters degree in early childhood education. That should fix the TSA bozos that have no clue how to talk to children.

  39. arcticJKL says:

    TSA needs to declare parents and their small children one person. Mommy gets a pat down, kid gets pat down. Then let them interact all they want.

  40. jasonq says:

    I’m sorry, but this is utter, unmitigated bullshit.

    If we’re this abjectly, pants-soiling paranoid as a society, we truly do not deserve to exist as a country anymore.

  41. shufflemoomin says:

    I understand exactly why the TSA did this. If they hadn’t and they let something on, you’d all still be complaining. As for the treatment this woman got and what was said, well, we’re only getting her side of the story which, as usual, is more than likely dripping with over-exaggeration and added drama. Don’t see the big deal.

    • Bill610 says:

      Why does every supporter of the TSA tell me that I’d be complaining if “something happens” that the TSA didn’t stop? On one level, of course I would, because TSA keeps pretending to be keeping us safe, and taking our money and violating our rights while perpetuating this lie. But so far, every time “something” happened, it wasn’t TSA that dealt with it, it was passengers. And people like me didn’t complain and say that TSA should have done more; we complained and said that TSA should go away.

      It is nothing but security theater. First, terrorists are incredibly rare. If they weren’t, and TSA was doing such a bang-up job of deterring attacks on planes, don’t you think that some buses and shopping malls and office buildings in the U.S. would have blown up by now? It’s a safe bet that most of the “terrorists” in the U.S. today are, best case, government agents undercover trying to find actual terrorists to catch, or, worst case, government provocateurs encouraging gullible, angry people to plot terrorism so they can arrest them.

      And if TSA was serious, don’t you think they’d arrest, or at least detain and thoroughly investigate, people who try to carry a pocket knife or too much liquid in one container onto a plane? As it is, those people are turned loose after their contraband is taken. That means that if they were attempting some kind of attack, they would be free to try over and over to get through the checkpoint until they succeeded…which, with the TSA’s 30%-40% failure rate, wouldn’t take very long.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      You mean like the “Shoe bomber” or are you referring to the “Underwear bomber”? Both passed through TSA and were only stopped by passengers (technically violating the TSA rules by leaving their seats)

  42. stanb says:

    Land of the free… to do as you are told by the jack-booted, uniformed thugs who lie to you saying it is “for your protection.”

    Way to go, sheep of America, keep on bleating your ignorance as you are led to the slaughter. At what point do we determine the TSA and DHS have declared war on the American people?

  43. gregpaul says:

    This story does a very neat job of summing up most of the TSA’s problems as they struggle to bring top-quality Security Theatre to the masses, on a tight – uhm make that GENEROUS – budget. It’s time to close curtain on the Theatre of the Absurd. The 9/11 Security Fee can be eliminated and the minimal cost of checking boarding passes rolled back in to the cost of doing business, a la pre-9/11.

    There’s nothing wrong with trying something in good faith, stepping back, assessing results and having the integrity to say the TSA isn’t working and never will. Go back to the rent-a-cops (many of whom now don the TSA uniform) that we had before. We haven’t gained squat over those bygone days.

  44. what says:

    I’m thinking if I ever fly again, this might be the way to go……


  45. Youngfrankenstein says:

    This is what scares me too much to fly. I have to take a trip to FL from OH in a few weeks with my mother and 2.5 year old. I rarely fly and haven’t in the last several years. I am so nervous between these stories and being thrown off the plane if my toddler cried. :(

    • flychinook says:

      Then Drive, or take a different form of transportation.

      If I knew a local restaurant had been threatening patrons and yelling at customers’ children, I don’t think I would eat at that restaurant any more, even if the next closest restaurant was much farther away.

  46. mazterjedi says:

    To all of you blaming the child…UP YOURS. Have a child and see if you can be seperated from them while a fake security guard violates their civil rights. Try to take a 4 year old away from their parents for any reason to go with a stranger to be touched and see how they react. Good luck keeping the kid under “control” then.

  47. mannyvel says:

    The gun in the teddy bear is from Red, the movie. WTF is that TSA guy thinking?

  48. pms says:

    You cant fault the TSO’s, they are just following orders like any good Gestapo agent would do.

  49. DoubleShortMILF says:

    THIS is what political correctness has done to us. We’re patting down grandmothers and 4 year olds. 4 year olds! For fuck’s sake.

  50. Antigone says:

    Funny, I recently traveled with my 1 year old and it seemed like the TSA was actually laying off children. I was allowed to go through the metal detector while carrying her, bypassing the nudie scanner everyone else had to go through, and no pat down. They even helped me gather up my massive amounts of baby stuff.

  51. dpeters11 says:

    I do believe that they’ve seen a gun in a bear before. But what the agent didn’t say was that it was during one of their random tests….

  52. CyberSkull says:

    A gun in a Teddy Bear? So that TSO saw that Golgo 13 movie too?

  53. SkydiverDoug says:

    Your tax dollars at work, but sadly enough this is just a Dog and Pony Show. Considering all of the people who have access to the plane, i.e., the refueller; the baggage handler; the food restock truck driver; the tug driver, et al, are they constantly checked? There have even been illegal aliens found to be working in those positions before being discovered. All it takes is one new unchecked ramp person to plant a bomb, and all of the idiot checks at the TSA Check Point won’t have made any difference in the world.