TSA: Children Still a Security Risk, Albeit a Smaller One

DHS announced earlier this week that revised security procedures will, in some cases, allow children 12 and under to avoid pat-downs and removing their shoes at security checkpoints. But the TSA said in a recent blog post that children could still be subjected to these things at the discretion of individual TSA officers based on a child’s appearance.

The Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this week that children 12 years old and younger soon will no longer be required to remove their shoes at airport security checkpoints, and that the revised security policy includes other ways to screen young children without resorting to a pat-down that involves touching private areas on the body.

The TSA offered some more details about this on a recent blog post. It confirmed that the policy changes will allow children to keep their shoes on, and they also will give TSA officers more options to resolve any alarms that may arise during screening.

However, the post made it very clear that children could still be subjected to pat-downs and taking off their shoes at the discretion of the TSA officers based on the children’s appearance. The post reads, “Let’s be clear. This will not eliminate the need for all pat-downs on children, and there will still be times that shoes might have to come off. This screening will take place with the parents present as we never separate children from their parents. Also, our officers will use their best discretion based on how old the child appears. They’ll be courteous though, and keep their guesstimates about the parent’s age to themselves.”

The blog post ended by reiterating again, “Please understand that this isn’t a free pass. TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures and nobody is guaranteed expedited screening.”

The new procedures have been piloted over the summer at the Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Houston, and Denver airports, and full implementation is expected country-wide by the end of September.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.