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The GEM Debate: Should A 6-Year-Old Child Receive A TSA Pat-Down?

I think this one’s going to get fiery!

For today’s hot button issue I want to take you back to my childhood in Sacramento California. Every year we would fly my grandmother out from Boston to spend the summer with us. I remember one year, with the patience of Job, she taught me how to crochet; I still have the blanket we made together. Picking her up at the airport was fun too because you used to be able to go right up to the arrival gate and wait for your party. We also have photos of us, smiling and standing out near the tarmac, only several hundred yards from the planes.

That was more than three decades ago and pre 9/11, times were VERY different. Before that day, most of us didn’t understand that there were people who hated us so much that they would be willing to kill themselves and take anyone, ANYONE along in the process.

But 9/11 was just the beginning.  A year later it was the unsuccessful shoe bomber, Richard Reid, then the would-be underwear bomber. But it was the foiled plot to bring down planes over the Atlantic with explosives hidden in innocuous items, like beverage containers that prompted the Transportation Security Administration to implement the stringent guidelines currently in place.

Anyone who has flown or watched TV in the last four years knows about the serious limitations on carry-on luggage and the kind of screening travelers undergo. The system isn’t perfect and there’s been a lot of learning for passengers and TSA along the way. Now the agency is under fire again after a six-year-old girl was patted down at the airport in New Orleans. Some are saying the TSA guidelines are too strict and need to be changed…

Okay, so here’s my take and many of you won’t agree. If this is going to keep people from blowing up planes in midflight, I’m perfectly okay with pat downs for everyone, including children as long as they are done in a respectful manner. It appears the screener did that and the child doesn’t look unduly stressed by the situation. Obviously, there may be exceptions, including incapacitated passengers or special needs children, but that’s not the case here…

On the Today show this morning a government official argued the agency would never exempt an entire class of people because terrorists would simply exploit that loophole – and I agree. But folks, it’s a new world and if this is one more in penny in the price for safety, I’m all for it.  If you object to the rules the answer is quite simple; buckle your kid in the car seat and drive to your destination.

But enough about me, what do you think? Here’s today’s GEM Debate…

Should 6-year-old children be subjected to pat-downs? Is this a necessary step for security? Have you or your children ever had an uncomfortable situation coming through airport security? And what did you do as a result?






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