TSA Gives Pat Down to 6-Year-Old Girl in New Orleans

Posted Apr 13th 2011 10:00 AMUpdated Apr 14th 2011 11:12 AM


tsa pat down six new orleans


A new video on YouTube is causing an uproar, as critics question why Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at the New Orleans airport gave an intense pat-down to a 6-year-old girl.

The video shows a female TSA agent explaining the security procedure to the child's mother and then having the 6-year-old girl spread her arms and legs for the pat-down, which includes "sensitive areas," in the words of the agent.

The child complains and the mom asks if re-scanning might be an option. The TSA agent replies, "no." The agent does try to calm the girl, telling her she has "pretty hair," and appears to conduct the pat-down in a gentle manner.

The incident occurred at Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans last week.

The family in the video is from Kentucky, and the mom, Selena Drexel, tells ABC's "Good Morning America" that they were returning from a vacation when their daughter, Anna, underwent the pat-down. Anna's father, Todd Drexel, says his daughter started to cry afterward.

Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Louisiana, questions why the child wasn't taken to a private area and whether the screening was even necessary.

"A 6-year-old child shouldn't be subjected to this kind of treatment in the first place if there's no reason to suspect her or her parents of being criminals," she tells CBS affiliate WWL New Orleans.

TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball tells AOL Travel News the agency "has reviewed the incident and determined that this officer followed proper current screening procedures."

However, he notes the TSA is in the midst of planning changes in line with TSA Administrator John Pistole's call for risk-based security screening.

"As part of this effort TSA has been actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers," the agency says in a statement.

But a congressman is questioning whether the incident seen in the video did in fact violate rules that call for a "modified" pat-down for children 12 and under.

"This conduct is in clear violation of TSA's explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13," Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, says in a statement.

This is not the first time the TSA has been criticized for rigorously screening children at airports and even on trains.

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I understand the searches but I think it would have been better of the child had been warned beforehand, taken to a private place perhaps where her mother could explain why this was happening and keep her calm. The child probably doesn't understand what caused this (heightened flight security) and why it is important, to her it is someone who she doesn't know touching her in places she was probably taught to never let anyone touch her (aka. anywhere that your 'bikini covers' as I was taught as a child). Perhaps they should have more sensitive/child friendly TSA agents dealing with children so that they can properly reassure and help keep the child calm? Some people are not well received by children and so they should be handled others know how to interact with children better. Or teach how to interact with children in a way that doesn't make them as distressed but still follows through with safety procedure.

Same for the elderly and those with medical issue. No one wants less safety on an airplane but at the same time, each person getting checked out by TSA is an individual with their own issues such as the man whose urine bag was dislodged during a pat down. The agents need to listen to what the person says and then follow through with the search accordingly so that safety is assured and personal/medical issues are handled in an appropriate way that doesn't cause a in air risk or drama.

August 06 2011 at 1:44 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I think that this has gone to farwe are loosing our freedoms little by little since 9/11 so the terroists have won the goverment overreacted most of these people and children they have done it to are white born in the USA love this country like we all do and yet they are being molested by our goverment Lets go after it terroist which are usually unmistakeable . you do know there are pedophiles everywhere what a great job that would be touching the private parts of children and infants . I would wager to say those muslims who love to hate anyone that isnt a muslim do know what they are doing they have put FEAR into americans . I am proud to be a american but watching what is happening to our country because of muslims is to much and needs to stop. The thing that really gets me is we pay these arab country billions of dollars when we need that money to keep our country running and help us the AMERICANS.
Americans need to band together and say enough is enough !!!!!

July 14 2011 at 5:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It is BS address the people actually causing the problems! This country is so full PC and lawsuits that seem to only affect the people trying to follow the laws. What has any of this done other than to make our lives more restricted and full of BS politics. When has any of this actually helped?

July 13 2011 at 7:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This Country is one big joke anymore , frisking 80 year olds , 6 year olds, come on are you kidding me ??? When i hear people say "its ok everyone has to go through it ", i wanna smack their teeth down their throats . Why do i , 80 year old grandmas , 6 year old kids have to be subject to this garbage , i didnt plant no bombs or hijack no airplanes and neither did they but noooo everyone fears cries of racism if they target the people who look like the 911 culprits. I for one am a Puerto Rican and im sick of this excuse. If a gang of Pureto Ricans was responsible for 911 then so be it go ahead and frisk me even though it is a violation of my rights givin to me by the brave people of the Revolutionary War , not by a scumbag responsible for these TSA idiots, George Bush !!

June 29 2011 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to stoncldgaz's comment

Meant to dislike but mistakenly pressed the thumbs up. Blame it on Bush all you want but, if you remember, the pat downs and naked scanners didn't begin until after Obama was already in office.

July 13 2011 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Srta. TacoMal

I feel sorry for the little girl to have been forced to do that when she didn't want to, but what must be done to keep the air safe must be done. I had a male pediatrician when I was her age that checked out my entire body, and even without giving me the "don't let other men touch you here" speech, I knew it was okay because he was a doctor and it was a doctor's office. Same principle applies here. Explain to her what happened and that it was for a special reason. People can be crazy; they could have put something on her. I'm really not fond of being blown up at 30,000 feet because a TSA officer was too paranoid to search a little girl.

June 27 2011 at 6:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Deborahi loveyou

This is a catch 22! If the child has explosives and blows the plane up it would be the airports fault but if they search they are wrong (?) . Anyone in the military will tell you there is no age limit. In Vietnam they wired babies up to explode when our guys were near them. It should be a female patting her down but her age does not matter. Tell her to put on her big girl panties and get over it, everyone else was getting patted down also.

June 27 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Ron Ponton

We have a serious issue here.
I hope this officer was a female officer.
And we need improvments in the system.
For children and medically dependent passingers.

June 27 2011 at 11:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Instead of reading disgusting stories, try to think why and how the US became a madhouse.

June 27 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

US is a savage state. The most savage ever existed in the world. Number 1!

June 27 2011 at 11:45 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

US is a savage state. Tihe most savaged ever existed in this world.

June 27 2011 at 11:44 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply