A 4-year-old girl was left weeping and terrified after the TSA surrounded her and patted her down after she received a hug from her grandmother. The TSA (Transportation Security Authority) refuses to apologize for its actions, saying that officers "followed proper current screening procedures."
Michelle Brademeyer was left in shock as her daughter, Isabella, who is four, was subjected to a pat-down by TSA agents. Isabella had passed through security but went back to hug her grandmother. That's when the trouble began, Brademeyer wrote on Facebook.
"First, a TSO began yelling at my child and demanded she too must sit down and await a full body pat-down. I was prevented from coming any closer, explaining the situation to her, or consoling her in any way. The TSO refused to let my daughter pass through the scanners once more, to see if she too would set off the alarm," Brademeyer wrote.
"It was implied, several times, that my mother had passed a handgun to my daughter. My child, who was obviously terrified, had no idea what was going on, and the TSOs involved made no attempt to explain it to her. They told her she had to come to them alone, and spread her arms and legs. She screamed, 'No! I don't want to!' then did what any frightened young child might, she ran the opposite direction," the Facebook page read.
Michelle, having had enough, picked up her daughter and tried to explain everything to her. TSO officials threatened to "shut down the entire airport [and] cancel all flights" if Isabella was not restrained.
"I was forced to set my child down … my child was shaking and crying uncontrollably, she did not want to stand still and let strangers touch her. The TSO loomed over my daughter, with an angry grimace on her face, and ordered her to stop crying. When my scared child could not do so, two TSOs called for backup, saying 'The suspect is not cooperating,'" the mother wrote.
Michelle reports that Isabella still suffers from nightmares and is considerably shaken up.
"All of this could have easily been prevented if the TSO involved had used a little bit of compassion. I feel compelled to share this story in the hope that no other child will have to share in this experience," she said.
The TSA has come under great scrutiny for how it conducts pat-downs. Last month people were horrified to watch a 3-year-old in a wheelchair be separated from his parents and go through a pat-down. The video, shot by his father, went viral and received thousands of hits and comments from viewers angry about the situation.
When asked for comment about Isabella's ordeal, the TSA showed no regret.
"TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper current screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child," they told The Consumerist.
Yet that seems to stand in opposition to the TSA policies travelers can read about.
"TSA will not ask travelers to do anything that will separate them from their child or children," reads one manual. "TSA specially trains TSOs and they understand travelers' concern for their children. TSOs will approach children gently and treat them with respect."
"If a child becomes uncomfortable or upset, security officers will consult parents about the best way to relieve the child's concern," it also reads.