TSA recommends using sexual predator tactics to calm kids at checkpoints

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74 Responses to “TSA recommends using sexual predator tactics to calm kids at checkpoints”

  1. flytch says:

    Just wait till the wave of people become permanently disabled due to the shock they have endured by groping TSA agents… Hmmm… boggles the mind but someone is bound to do it… and after one does it and it gets wide public attention the wave of followers will be an avalanche…

  2. sbarnes2 says:

    I can see the long-term consequences now: Johnnny comes home from his trip to Florida and asks Betty Sue if she want to play airport. “But mommy, daddy, it was alright when the man at the airport did it!”

  3. pffft says:

    So when I make a game of cleaning my son’s room with him does that mean I’m “grooming” him for sexual predators?

    I am completely against the full body scanners too but let’s try to be rational.

    When you start throwing absurd and irrational claims and arguments against the TSA you start to lose credibility.

    • sapere_aude says:

      So when I make a game of cleaning my son’s room with him does that mean I’m “grooming” him for sexual predators?

      If cleaning your son’s room involves allowing a stranger to grope his genitals, then yes, yes it does.

      • pffft says:

        If cleaning your son’s room involves allowing a stranger to grope his genitals, then yes, yes it does.

        If the stranger was doing it without my consent – yes. But in the case of the TSA screenings, the search is done with the parent’s consent.

        Now the question of whether TSA is essentially coercing us as parents to consent to these searches (either because we feel that it’s necessary to use air travel or because we would be fined for trying to leave the security area) is a good question. I think this is a major civil liberties problem.

        But to claim that this is inapproprate contact is not correct. If it were inappropriate, the parent should not consent to it.

        I understand the problem – believe me I do. I don’t like the scanners or the “enhanced” pat-downs. But the logic being used here is – IMHO – faulty.

        Seems to me that the question is whether these TSA policies are appropriate from a civil liberties perspective. The question is not “is TSA grooming my child for inappropriate contact”? As a parent, if you think the contact is inappropriate, you would not consent.

        • sapere_aude says:

          My point, of course, was that your example of making a game of cleaning your son’s room was a straw man argument, because cleaning your son’s room doesn’t involve letting strangers grope him. (At least I hope it doesn’t.)

          No one here is arguing that there’s anything wrong with motivating your kids by turning unpleasant chores into games. What we’re arguing is that telling a child that it’s okay for a stranger to grope him because “it’s just a game” is exactly the sort of thing that child molesters do; and that if you decide to play that game with the TSO at the airport, your child might think it’s okay to play the same game with the nice man with candy at the playground. A young child is not mentally equipped to understand the difference between the two situations, and why one is appropriate* touching while the other is not.

          (*personally, I don’t consider either to be appropriate; but you seem to want to make that distinction)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Imagine what would happen if we gave the military the same unchecked leverage as we give the TSA. There are good reasons why we do not unleash the US military on it’s own citizens. What we have done is give the TSA the power that we do not give our military. The TSA is creating a situation for which we condemn other countries.

  5. HarveyBoing says:

    Yikes. I guess when it comes to poor judgment, TSA management has the market cornered.

    I agree that this “bad people do this so TSA is bad” is not in and of itself logically conclusive. Yet, how many good people are going around telling kids it’s a game to perform a full-body search? Correlation certainly can be suggestive of useful hypotheses to test, such as “the TSA is molesting us, including our children”.

    I have been avoiding air travel as much as possible since 9/11. Not because I’m concerned about terrorism. Because I hate what our government has done since then. But I can only drag my heels on visiting relatives for so long. It’s been four years, and unfortunately a trip is due.

    You can bet that the last thing I’ll be doing is suggesting to my kids that the TSA search is a game. I will make very clear to them that under ordinary circumstances, this degree of touching would be completely inappropriate. (It may or may not come up, of course; one child has already expressed a refusal to be scanned, and no one in my family will be permitted to go through the x-ray version of the scanner in any case, but of course it’s possible we won’t be selected for the “enhanced screening” anyway).

  6. Razzabeth says:

    This is basically the most fucked up thing I have ever heard in my life, and I beg you, Cory, to make this more than a small blurb. Make it real big, with a ‘WTF Cat’ image next to a crying child so that everyone sees it.

  7. chgoliz says:

    I’ve always spent more time talking with my kids about the upcoming PROCESS of traveling than the actual destination. Well worth the effort: we’ve had to spend extra days in airports, make countless last-minutes changes and dashes, go without access to edible food for extended periods of time, etc., and they’ve always risen to the challenge.

    But, I haven’t yet figured out how to explain to them what going to the family reunion this Christmas is going to entail…especially considering the fact that they’re not all under 12, so they’re not all eligible for the “gentler” kid version of the groping.

    At least I know they are fully capable of standing up for themselves in other situations.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It won’t happen to me or my family. We just won’t fly. If enough people do this, the madness will stop. I can see the pedophiles
    lining up for an application for a job with TSA.

  9. Eeeeeeeeeep says:

    Is there anywhere I can see the relevant child protection background checks on the “TSA regional security director James Marchand” before accepting their suggestion as a good idea ?

  10. oheso says:

    No one here is arguing that there’s anything wrong with motivating your kids by turning unpleasant chores into games. What we’re arguing is that telling a child that it’s okay for a stranger to grope him because “it’s just a game” is exactly the sort of thing that child molesters do; and that if you decide to play that game with the TSO at the airport, your child might think it’s okay to play the same game with the nice man with candy at the playground.

    This.

    Few people would argue that this is priming the kid for sexual abuse.

    Count me among the few. (Somehow I suspect that “few” in this case means “just about any parent.”)

  11. oheso says:

    To do so is completely contrary to what we in the sexual abuse prevention field have been trying to accomplish for the past thirty years.

    – from TFE(xpert) in TFA …

  12. mmchicago says:

    “Reductio ad predatorem. Just because sexual predators do it, it’s not automatically bad. I do concur, though, that the TSA’s security theatre is generally pointless and a violation of human dignity.”

    Correct. My kids’ pediatrician uses the same technique to look in their eyes, ears and nose.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Child sexual predators rarely have only one obsession or deviation, the average is four with some predators indulging as many as ten.

  14. Zombie says:

    I’m laughing, but really I think it’s so I don’t start crying. This is exactly what the man who molested me for 12 years told me.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Children intuitively know that this is sick and wrong.
    And grown ups brain washing them that it was right and a game?

    Isn’t it remarkable how a civilised society can become so sick and twisted? Its an incremental process … image where you’ll be in a decade.

  16. bardfinn says:

    I cannot comment without legitimately Godwinning the thread.

  17. Church says:

    “If the stranger was doing it without my consent – yes. But in the case of the TSA screenings, the search is done with the parent’s consent.”

    Well, yeah. The alternative is that you don’t get to fly to grandma’s after all.

    So “consent” should be taken with an asterix.

    • pffft says:

      @39. Exactly. Read my entire comment and you’ll see I make the exact same point.

      And either most parents are consenting to “inappropriate” touching or (more realistically) a violation of our fourth amendment rights.

      I would submit that if this was REALLY “inappropriate” touching, then MOST parents would truly not consent.

      What we’re really consenting to is a possible violation of our fourth amendement rights. And I’m not arguing that this is OK. I’m just saying we should be accurate in our arguments rather than scream “pedophile” which, while more sensational, is a weaker argument in the long run.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Question – Let’s say I own a taxi. Let’s say I make sexual contact a condition for getting into my taxi. Now let’s say a person consents because there is really no other viable option and I take that person to their destination. Later he or she decides to sue me for sexual harrassment, sexual assault and a host of other things, would any of you bet your next paycheck on my winning that case? I certainly wouldn’t. The TSA’s personal and invasive “pat down” policy is ridiculous because aside from creating “a hostile environment” (to reuse corporate silly speak), promotes an environment where otherwise-unwelcome sexual contact is the norm, and it also violates the 4th amendment.

  19. Anonymous says:

    It’s not abuse if you are only following orders, right?

  20. Church says:

    Playing Doctor is old and busted.

    Playing TSA is the new hotness!

  21. ausPPC says:

    One hand fondles the other. I mean – washes the other. I mean – has no fucking clue what the other is doing.

  22. Church says:

    The naked room cleaning game.

  23. friendpuppy says:

    “A wedding should not be something I’m dreading.” Have you ever been to a wedding?

  24. Anonymous says:

    “If the stranger was doing it without my consent – yes. But in the case of the TSA screenings, the search is done with the parent’s consent.”

    So your position is that strangers should be allowed to grope your child’s genitals as long as you ok it, no matter if there is a legitimate medical reason?

    You should not be trusted around kids.

  25. Church says:

    “@39. Exactly. Read my entire comment and you’ll see I make the exact same point.”

    Pardon, I’m not the brightest bulb on the internet tree.

  26. Tetsubo says:

    I am not a person that advocates violence. But in the case of this asshat, I might make an exception. He needs to be fired and fired NOW. Yeah, I’m a survivor of sexual abuse.

    • EvilSpirit says:

      While it is true that he needs to be fired and fired now, BoingBoing isn’t going to do it for you. Your members of Congress *might*.

  27. Anonymous says:

    i cant go to the airport because i cant bring myself to be searched like this, and now my wife might have an issue if i have managed to teach my children what i was told was the right way to empower them.

    cool. my six year old gave me a bloody nose when we were just playing. this could be a problem. resist authority…

  28. Anonymous says:

    Get used to this my fellow Americans. If we do not have the will to stop these assaults in our airports, it’s just a matter of time until we accept them at our train stations, at our malls, at our movie theatres, wherever we need to feel “safe”.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I think that it would be entirely appropriate to teach children that it is a game (better, rehearsal) in which they practice the kind of screaming they should do when someone touched them that way. Offer the screener earplugs. We’re being nice here.

    –Beryl

  30. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how many pedophiles will now tell kids they are just “playing going through the airport”!

  31. ill lich says:

    Now that the Catholic Church is being forced to expunge all the pedophiles in their midst, it’s good to know there are jobs out there for these defrocked priests.

  32. Shay Guy says:

    In a couple of months, I have to go out of town for a wedding. The only alternative to flying is a more dangerous 13-hour drive, and I’ve never driven outside a city.

    A wedding should not be something I’m dreading.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      Driving *outside* of cities is the easy part of road trips. It’s driving in unfamiliar urban areas that’s hard.

  33. Teller says:

    “Cockadoodle duck
    Cockadoodle deer
    Cockadoodle Mr Frog
    What’re you hiding HERE!”

  34. donniebnyc says:

    This just in. Banner seen on Bin Laden’s house. It reads:

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

  35. Marshall says:

    I am shocked that some angry parent hasn’t already taken a swing at a TSA frisker over the treatment of their child. It’s only a matter of time before one of these screening lines devolves into a brawl or riot.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like James Marchand has done this sort of thing before.

  37. Avram / Moderator says:

    This just keeps getting worse and worse.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I’ve shuddered at the thought of some TSA goon groping my kids. Not because it is sex abuse, but because it’s just not right.

    On reflection, I realized I would have an even bigger problem.

    My boys are 3 and 4. They think anything down there is funny. My oldest would almost certainly shout “He touched my weiner and my butt!” “Dad, he touched my weeeeineeeer!” Not because he saw it as wrong, but because it was funny to him. Then the younger one would join in. “He touched your butt.”

    Within seconds they would both be chanting loudly about weiners and butts.

    “He touched my weiner, weiner, weiner.” “He touched your butt, butt, butt.”
    Over and over
    for hours…

    Thanks TSA!

    PS We use the clinical terms at home, so of course they would use something else.

  39. JoshuaZ says:

    I’ve tentatively come to the conclusion that the TSA’s security procedures are actually part of the largest scale replication of the Milgram experiment in history. So far the data backs of Milgram’s pretty well…

    • Anonymous says:

      re: Milgram experiment

      I could wonder if people really want to see what happens if they hurt other people provided that they aren’t held personally responsible for their actions.

  40. arikol says:

    Well, that would actually be rather fitting.

    Myself, I would sue any bloody TSA pervert if they fondled my child, but that’s just me.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Reductio ad predatorem. Just because sexual predators do it, it’s not automatically bad. I do concur, though, that the TSA’s security theatre is generally pointless and a violation of human dignity.

    • oheso says:

      Just because sexual predators do it, it’s not automatically bad.

      Your reasoning is sound. On the other hand, isn’t this teaching children that it’s OK to enter into games with strangers that end up with the children being fondled by the strangers?

      I’m not a child abuse expert but I can see that one clearly enough.

      • Loraan says:

        On the other hand, isn’t this teaching children that it’s OK to enter into games with strangers that end up with the children being fondled by the strangers?

        This seems like over-simplification. The parent is present, providing cues that this is okay. I mean, a parent may take a kid to a doctor or a dentist, who may touch the kid when the kid initially doesn’t want them to, but the parent says, “It’s okay, the doctor is just trying to help you feel better,” and the kid (maybe) settles down. Few people would argue that this is priming the kid for sexual abuse. The only reason people are feeling this way about the TSA is because they (rightly) want to hate on the TSA. But the argument doesn’t hold water, I don’t think.

        • Glenn Fleishman says:

          Unfortunately, there are legions of stories of doctors and others in trust abusing children under the guise of authority with parents present who are too cowed by authority to respond.

        • pffft says:

          Loraan – you are correct. Whether or not you like the TSA’s recent policies around scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs (and I do not), to claim that the TSA is “grooming” children for sexual predation is completely beyond logic.

          By this logic, any time a person uses a game to make a child do something — even with the parent present and indicating that it’s OK — they are “grooming” for predation.

          Not even considering what we think of TSA and their policies, this logic simply doesn’t make sense.

          • jere7my says:

            By this logic, any time a person uses a game to make a child do something — even with the parent present and indicating that it’s OK — they are “grooming” for predation.

            Of course, in this case the “something” is exactly the same thing predators want to be doing — groping wee genitals — so your point is already sort of dangling in mid-air kicking its legs.

            Regardless, the scenario we’re talking about here is this: The parent says, “Go over there, and that fellow in the uniform will check you over.” The TSA agent performs a “pat-down”, in the course of which he both touches the child’s genitals and pretends they’re playing a game.

            Your dismissal of the problem depends on the child’s response being, “It’s okay because my parents are watching me closely,” and not “It’s okay because my parents said it was okay, and next time somebody wants to play this game it will be okay too.” Children aren’t little robots; they learn lessons in nonlinear ways, and may remember the experience of being touched by a game-playing stranger more vividly than their parents’ presence and tacit approval. You’re requiring kids to respond in a particular way, when kids respond in all sorts of ways. Parental consent — particularly when the parent is stressed or imperfectly consenting — is not always at the forefront of their clever little minds.

            Conversely, the worst thing that will come of your example is the kid saying “Next time somebody wants to play the room-cleaning game it will be okay too.” Which, y’know, I have no problem with.

          • pffft says:

            I’m not dismissing the problem. I’m saying that the problem is being mischaracterized in a way that makes the overall argument against the problem weaker.

            I am not for enhanced pat-downs or scanners. I’m against them. But not because of “genital groping”. The problem with the “genital groping” argument is that it doesn’t really make sense.

            If you’re OK with pat-downs then you should be OK with your genitals being touched. Otherwise, what’s the point of a pat-down? And to exempt children makes no sense. As horrible as it is, terrorists use women and children.

            The reality is we either are OK with scanners and enhanced pat-downs or we’re against the whole scanner/pat-down regime. To focus on genitalia is missing the forest for the trees and allows TSA to argue that a pat-down that doesn’t include genitals and children would be a security hole. Which is true if you accept the premise that the scanners and pat-downs are required in the first place. Thus the need to argue against the whole regime, not just one part of it.

          • jere7my says:

            The reality is we either are OK with scanners and enhanced pat-downs or we’re against the whole scanner/pat-down regime.

            I’m not sure that kind of black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us, whole-enchilada rhetoric is helping. If you’re opposed to something, you shouldn’t drive away the people who are opposed to just part of it. Genital groping and naked pictures are things that middle America can get up in arms about, which means they have power that more idealistic arguments don’t. See “wedge issue”.

          • sapere_aude says:

            I agree with jere7my. It’s not an all or nothing thing. The Supreme Court has always drawn a distinction between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” searches; and one of the key factors in deciding whether a search is reasonable or unreasonable is how much it violates an individual’s expectations of privacy. And there have always been greater expectations of privacy for some parts of the body than for others.

            The Supreme Court recognized this in its recent ruling in Stafford Unified School District #1 et al. v. Redding (2009), which held that the partial strip search of a teenage girl “necessarily exposed [her] breasts and pelvic area to some degree, and both subjective and reasonable societal expectations of personal privacy support the treatment of such a search as categorically distinct, requiring distinct elements of justification … for going beyond a search of outer clothing and belongings.” The Court goes on to note that the girl’s “subjective expectation of privacy against such a search is inherent in her account of it as embarrassing, frightening, and humiliating.” In other words, there is a legitimate distinction to be made between a search of the outer clothing and a search of the body itself, particularly the breasts and pelvic area. This is not about prudishness. It’s about the right of the individual not to have his or her body – and, in particular, those parts of the body most closely associated with sexuality – violated in such a way that might be embarrassing, frightening, or humiliating.

            It is perfectly reasonable for someone to consent to a search that is not embarrassing, frightening, or humiliating, while objecting to a search that involves genital groping. It’s also perfectly reasonable for an adult to consent to a thorough pat down while objecting to the idea of kids being groped in the same way. Just because someone accepts the need for a certain amount of passenger screening at the airports doesn’t mean that they can’t draw the line at the point where they feel that the costs begin to outweigh the benefits – at the point where the screening process itself becomes so embarrassing, frightening, and humiliating that it begins to overshadow any fears they might have about terrorists trying to hijack or blow up the plane.

          • jere7my says:

            To put it another way: for a lot of people, the “problem” is not the constitutional issue, it’s “I don’t want strangers touching my child’s penis” or “I don’t want naked pictures of my children to exist.” It doesn’t matter whether their justification makes sense; it doesn’t matter whether they pass some ideology test; what matters is that their goals align with ours for the moment, to wit: they want to roll back the TSA’s power. Republicans understand this strategy very very well.

          • pffft says:

            I agree with the philosophy that we should try to use whatever works. But I’m afraid this line of argument won’t work because TSA will argue that not groping would be a security whole (which is true if you accept the premise that this regime is necessary).

            But as you say, maybe the groping thing will get enough people up in arms that TSA will also not be able to use logic to defend its position.

            The fact that – as you point out – this is a page from the Repug playbook (just keep screaming “child molestor”), just makes me sad. But maybe it’s the way it has to be.

          • pffft says:

            “whole” = “hole”

  42. arikol says:

    ..but I avoid my children being sexually molested by those goons by not contributing to the economy of “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Nope, best stay here, a few thousand kilometres away.

    • Patrick Austin says:

      If you’re not contributing to our economy actively, you’re probably contributing passively by helping us dispose of ordinance.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Well, it IS a game after all. They know it’s ineffective and we just put up with it out of exhaustion, fear of losing our flights, and of being labeled ‘unpatriotic’.

    And hey, if children ain’t taught to take this as a serious procedure that one needs to endure for travel safety, then what are they supposed to believe? Just a game? Then when they don’t want to play anymore or get scared by their playmate and throw a fit, scratch some faces or wet themselves, who’s to blame?

    I just dread the prospect of this little playtime, with both kids & adults, becoming common and expanding to other areas. From not very well paid, bored and fed-up employees at airports to even worse paid, less trained and screened ones at bus stations and trains, to temp workers at subways… no, can’t imagine anything going wrong when some shred of POWER over others gets foisted on anyone with a badge.

  44. Sagodjur says:

    “Most child molesters are in a position of trust and are often able to undermine the child’s ability to accurately perceive the behavior as abusive. Most molesters are also able to convince other adults that it never happened or that the child misunderstood.”

    http://www.fstc.net/facts_info_childmolestation.htm

  45. Anonymous says:

    Given the modus operandi of some child molesters, I wonder how long it is before some TSA agent takes a child traveling alone into a back room . . .

  46. Anonymous says:

    So yeah, the TSA is now grooming children for molesters out of the terminal.

    Is there any reason not to call them perverts at this point?

    • AirPillo says:

      They’re usually not enjoying it, or else it’d be fair to call them perverts.

      It is fair, however, to call them fools.

      • oheso says:

        They’re usually not enjoying it, or else it’d be fair to call them perverts.

        “Enjoying it” is a not a legal requirement for a pervert conviction. To be convicted of possession of child pornography, for example, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the perp actually got off on the material.

        • AirPillo says:

          I wasn’t really thinking of “pervert” was a legal definition.

          If someone spends their day looking at disturbing porn because they want to I’d call them a pervert, if they spend their day looking at disturbing porn because their job is screening and removing adult content from youtube, I’d say they have a sucky job.

      • Anonymous says:

        Can we demand that the screeners be hooked up to fMRI machines the entire time they’re working so we know they’re not enjoying it?

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