TSA Pats Down Toddler in Wheelchair

Yes, this headline is correct. Criticism has been surrounding this video questioning whether the TSA is doing its job or going a bit too far?

The video of TSA screening a toddler at a security checkpoint went viral via YouTube on Saturday, March 17, 2012, and is now making headlines on all major news outlets.

Matt Dubiel recorded the incident in spring 2010 at the Chicago Midway International Airport. The video shows his son, 3-year-old Rocco Dubiel, who was in a cast and wheelchair at the time, undergoing a pat-down search from TSA.  

The boy’s father told CNN that he recently found the video and was upset after viewing it – hence, the YouTube upload. He told CNN, “There is another human being putting their hands on my child. That is not acceptable.” Dubiel added, “The whole exercise was intrusive and disrespectful to a human being.”

While the child’s screening is “thorough,” TSA issued a policy that would prevent children from undergoing such invasion of privacy after the video was taken.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made a statement regarding children screenings back in September 13, 2011: “There’d be additional training for a different pat-down procedure for them and also, again, allowing them to leave their shoes on.” That same month, TSA put into effect new rules that would allow children 12 years and under to keep their shoes on while going through metal detectors and advanced imaging technology; also the opportunity to walk through scanners multiple times and using white explosive detection pads instead of undergoing pat-downs.

While the boy was only 3 years old, he was in a metal wheelchair that needed to be screened. As far as the pat-down, I’m torn. The agent was following protocol, yet since it was a technically disabled 3-year-old, special accommodations should have been provided by TSA.

TSA launched TSA Cares in December 2011, a helpline dedicated to assist travelers requiring special needs. According to the TSA blog, more than 3,200 people have been assisted after calling the TSA Cares Helpline that serves passengers requiring any special accommodations. Perhaps if this helpline was in place at the time of the video, this incident would not have sparked such controversy.

What do you think? Should this issue be relevant two years later? Was TSA “intrusive and disrespectful” or was the screener simply following protocol?

Watch the video below and let us know what you think.


Posted by Christina Miralla on Mar 21, 2012

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