People are criticizing a Transportation Security Administration officer after a video of him emerged on the internet, showing him patting down a teenage boy during a security check at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The uncomfortable and significantly distressing video of the young boy being touched multiple times, even near his genitals, was uploaded by his “livid” mother Jennifer Williamson on Facebook.
Williamson's son Aaron has a sensory processing disorder.
“We were treated like dogs because I requested they attempt to screen him in other ways per TSA rules. He has SPD and I didn't want my child given a pat down like this. Let me make something else crystal clear. He set off NO alarms. He physically did not alarm at all during screening, he passed through the detector just fine. He is still several hours later saying ‘I don't know what I did. What did I do?’ I am livid,” she wrote in her post.
SPD can cause people who have it to be over-stimulated to touch or feel anxious, which is why she specifically didn’t want her child to be patted down.
Contradicting Williamson’s statements, TSA said the employee seen in the video only followed protocol since the boy’s laptop sounded an alarm during an initial screening. The organization also claimed (as shown in the video) the boy was fully explained the procedure before he underwent it, and that he didn’t seem distressed or uncomfortable with what was going on. TSA further stated the passengers were withheld from going further through the security check because the woman had refused Aaron’s pat-down and demanded that the police be involved.
Currently, TSA’s disabilities branch is carrying out investigations into the incident.
However, many Facebook users commenting on Williamson’s video have recounted their horrifying experiences with the TSA, claiming they too were inappropriately touched by security agents.
“I have to go through this procedure every time i fly, Which is often as I always opt out of the Full body scanner and then starts the whole slow process of "finding an available agent" to do the search on me. They can bring you in a private room of you want one. I always deny it and just want it done in the open to get on my way as quick as possible. I usually make jokes to the Tsa aganet (sic) about him touching my Privates and stuff. This boys pat down and search was identical to all the ones i have been through,” one woman wrote.
“I was HORRIFIED at the amount of time this took! This man was feeling this boy too much! If I was the mother I would have slapped him!” another commented.
“It looks like this man has serious issues. This is grossly abnormal, and outrageous. If this was my child, I would not have taken this quietly. So sorry for this innocent little boy, and his family,” said a social media user.
Check out the video above.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jason Reed