A few weeks ago, Amazon came under fire for selling an e-book that was essentially a “how-to” guide for pedophiles. Among other things, it apparently provided instructions on how to get children to cooperate with a sexual predator. The book has since been removed by Amazon, but now the TSA is providing its agents with similar instructions as a method to get children to cooperate with airport pat-downs.
According to Ken Wooden, from Child Lures Prevention, the TSA is recommending that children be told the pat-down is a game and it is also including this technique in its training for TSA agents. This is especially confusing, since the TSA seems to be saying that pat-downs only apply to children over the age of 12 (and even then it is a modified pat-down), yet there have been numerous cases of distressed children receiving a pat-down. If the TSA isn’t giving younger children pat-downs, why would they need to make it into a game?
The concern with this “game,” according to Wooden, is that it teaches children to cooperate with pedophiles. According to The Raw Story’s article Exclusive: TSA frisks groom children to cooperate with sex predators, abuse expert says:
Telling a child that they are engaging in a game is “one of the most common ways” that sexual predators use to convince children to engage in inappropriate contact, Wooden told Raw Story.
Children “don’t have the sophistication” to distinguish between a pat-down carried out by an airport security officer and an assault by a sexual predator, he said.
The TSA policy could “desensitize children to inappropriate touch and ultimately make it easier for sexual offenders to prey on our children,” Wooden added.
Many parents are concerned about how to explain the difference between the “bad touching” that they warn their children against and the possibly mandatory (but not “good”) touching by the TSA. Making it into a game is disconcerting to parents and experts alike.
If you have had to travel with your children in the past few weeks, what have you told them about the possibility of a pat-down by the TSA?
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Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.
Photo credit: Keo 101 on flickr
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