Could TSA Searches Confuse Kids About "Private" Parts?

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

On the surface, I understand why the TSA must adopt more stringent pat-down policies, even though there hasn't been an inciting incident precipitating these new, aggressive physical searches. A friend recently said, "Go through a body scanner, have a pat-down, or die in an explosion mid-air? I'm going with body scanner or pat-down." I see where he's coming from. But here's the eternal question: what about the children?

As a parent of a toddler, I'm starting to think about how to tell my child that his body belongs to him. As soon as he can understand, he'll need to know that certain body parts are private, and that no one is allowed to touch them unless he says it's OK - unless it's a doctor, in which case I'll be in the same room with him. How do I reconcile this very important lesson with invasive body searches? Yes, it's true that the TSA conducts modified pat-downs for people under 12 years of age, but my son is still going to see me and my husband having our private areas touched as we go through airport security, and he'll probably see how uncomfortable this makes us.

We could say to him that this is for the greater good, but that's debatable. Opponents of these new aggressive searches say that it violates our Fourth Amendment rights: we should only be subjected to such searches if there's probable cause for them. So how are we supposed to explain that we're letting people touch our private parts, even though we're not quite OK with that? This is sure to create confusion in our kids as to exactly how private their parts really are, and who it's OK to let touch them.