NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — You’ve seen the videos. Pat-downs of children have led to a nationwide debate on security screening at airports.
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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.
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