US mum says son 'traumatised' after getting pat down at airport

US mum says son 'traumatised' after getting pat down at airport
PHOTO: Video screengrab
W.T.M. Why This Matters
Parents in the US have raised concern over the past few years regarding the way airport security - namely, TSA officials - conduct their physical pat downs on young children. Several have spoken up in the past about how their kids were deeply affected by their experience of going through security screening in US airports. Regarding this case, TSA came forward and said it was just following orders.

A woman from Texas has lashed out at the authorities of a US airport after being held up due to security screening.

In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, Jennifer Williamson claimed she and her son were put "through hell" during their experience with security at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport. The two had apparently missed their flight out as well.

She filmed her teenage son, Aaron, as he was undergoing a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pat down.

Williamson wrote in her post that her young son has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a condition in which the brain has difficulty receiving information from the senses correctly, according to the Star Institute for SPD.

"I didn't want my child (to be) given a pat down like this," she said.

She added that she had requested for airport officals "to screen him in other ways per TSA rules". Her request apparently did not go through and she proceeded to film her 13-year-old son getting a full-body pat down.

on Facebook

We have been through hell this morning. They detained Aaron for well over an hour at DFW. (And deliberately kept us from...

Posted by Jennifer Williamson on Sunday, 26 March 2017

The video, which is slightly over a minute long, has been shared more than 100,000 times and garnered at least 7.1 million views.

Williamson told US news site CBS News in a televised interview that she and her son "were treated with utter disrespect".

She said it all started when TSA agents realised Aaron had a laptop in his bag, but she maintained that her son did not set off any alarms.

The TSA officer in Williamson's video can be seen speaking to her son right before he started the security pat down.

The teenager is seen acknowledging him calmly and does not seem agitated at any point.

However, his mother has said he was "traumatised" by the incident.

According to Williamson, her son had continued to ask her several hours after their security screening: "I don't know what I did. What did I do?"

This is not the first time in which TSA officers have drawn flak over the way they conduct security checks on young children.

Back in 2016, a father from San Diego also recorded his 10-year-old daughter being subjected to a TSA pat down.

During an appearance on the US talk show 'Good Morning America', he said the incident "was incredibly inappropriate, very invasive" and had "violated" his child.

Earlier this month, it was announced that TSA's physical pat downs would become "more rigorous" and its agents will carry them out with a single approach across all airports in the US.

Based on official statistics, the TSA screens over two million travellers per day. Anyone who refuses to use full-body scanners will automatically be asked to go through a pat down, said Conde Nast Traveler.

ssandrea@sph.com.sg

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