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Napolitano: TSA To Back Off Screening Children Under 12 At Airports

News Welcome To Some, But Many Others Not So Hot On The Idea
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Child pat-downs

Airport security pat-downs may soon be a thing of the past for children the age of 12. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Christine Sloan thumbnail Christine Sloan
Emmy-award winning journalist Christine Sloan joined CBS 2 News in...
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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — You’ve seen the videos. Pat-downs of children have led to a nationwide debate on security screening at airports.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

Now, as CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reports, the government is changing the rules for kids.

A video on YouTube has upset many parents. It shows a 6-year-old girl who appears to be uncomfortable, getting a pat down by a Transportation Security Administration worker.

The kinds of pat-downs could soon come to an end for children under 12.

“So these improvements are underway, but I would caution, senator, that when you say do it in a month, we need to move on a deliberate pace, but a careful pace,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

Napolitano also told senators on Tuesday she wants to end the practice of kids under 12 taking off their shoes at security checkpoints. One father at Newark Liberty International Airport told Sloan it’s about time.

“That’s a good thing,” he said.

“I think it’s great. I don’t think kids should be patted down like that,” said Lauren Spahr of Yardly, Pa.

But the majority of parents we talked to at Newark said they are worried.

“People do use their children to smuggle things in and out,” said traveler Earlica Smith of Florida

So are other passengers.

“It’s probably better to check everyone out, obviously. Anyone could be strapped with explosives. It happens in countries where the terrorists come from,” said Ricky Isaacs of the United Kingdom.

One 12-year-old and her mom, a retired NYPD officer who was on duty when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, said they would rather be safe on the plane than feel uncomfortable for a few minutes.

“The kids are innocent but they could be hiding weapons for their parents,” Jamie Kavanagh said.

“I don’t see anything wrong with patting down children under 12. It’s a professional thing to do. Also, it’s in a very public environment,” added Callum McLennan.

The government hopes to implement the changes in the coming months. Napolitano said the TSA will roll out the changes gradually and screeners will need additional training.

What do you think? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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