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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

TSA Changes Screening Procedures for Children



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Good news! The brainiacs at the TSA have determined that the amount of explosives that might fit inside a child’s shoe does not pose enough of a danger to force children to take off their shoes at the security-screening checkpoint. The new rules say any child under twelve is exempt from having to remove his or her shoes. No word yet if big-footed children will be selected for additional security screening. Fox News reports:

This weekend marks the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday travel surge. More than 23 million passengers are expected at the nation’s airports, and to make travel a little less hectic, the federal Transportation Security Administration is showcasing some major changes to airline security.

In one key change, kids 12 and younger won’t need to take off their sneakers at the screening check points. Although that change has been in place for a couple of months, the Thanksgiving rush is its first major test.

TSA chief John Pistole told Fox News that the new approach is driven by the intelligence gathered on potential threats.

“Children themselves, of course, are not terrorists. But we also know that they can be used by terrorists to do bad things, which we’ve seen overseas,” he said. “Fortunately we haven’t seen that here.”

Pistole said the decisions also come down to measuring risk, because the TSA can’t protect every passenger and every airplane all of the time. “This is all about risk mitigation, risk management. It’s not risk elimination,” Pistole emphasized, adding that kids are low risk compared to the shoe bomber who tried to bring down a jet over the Atlantic 10 years ago.

“The shoes Richard Reid had in December of ‘01 were large shoes, so simply from an explosives standpoint, smaller shoes, smaller feet – much less likely in terms of something bad.”

If there’s a problem, Pistole said, kids are allowed to pass through the screener a few times, or trace detection can be used to solve the problem in consultation with parents or a guardian.

We’ll see if the actual TSA screeners get the memo or if kids will still be forced to take off their shoes when they travel this Thanksgiving.



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