TSA to use fewer patdowns on kids

Laura Rozen

The Transportation Security Administration plans to roll out the use of less invasive security screening procedures for children under 12, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.

"Children 12 years old and younger won't have to take off their shoes to get on an airplane, and they'll get patted down less," USA Today reported.

The changes, which were tested at six airports in the spring, will be put into place at airports across the country by the end of the month after TSA officers receive more training, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

In April, an online video of a 6-year-old girl getting patted down at the New Orleans airport caused public outrage.

Under the new procedures, children will be allowed "multiple passes through the walk through metal detector, greater use of explosives trace detection, as well as multiple attempts to capture a clear image during advanced imaging technology screening," the TSA said in a statement e-mailed to the Envoy Tuesday. However, pat-downs will still be used if concerns can't be resolved by those less hands-on methods.

"We do want to move and are moving to a more risk-based approach to screening passengers, try to streamline procedures for those passengers who are low-risk, which enhances our ability to focus on passengers who either we don't know or who are high-risk," Napolitano said.

The new screening guidelines for children give TSA "officers more options to resolve any alarms that may occur during the screening process," TSA spokesman Greg Soule said in an email Tuesday. "TSA anticipates these changes, which will begin rolling out in select airports this week, will continue to strengthen and streamline the security screening process for travelers."