Recently a 12 year-old girl traveling with friends of the family was separated from her group and forced to go through the naked scanner at the Tampa airport. The girl’s parents say that TSA, “In essence conducted a strip search on a 12-year-old girl without her parents present to advocate for her.”
TampaBay.com reported on the July incident:
A Baltimore family is raising the issue after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.
“Our daughter was scared and didn’t understand what was happening,” said Michelle Nemphos, the mother of the girl. She declined to give her daughter’s name. “In essence they conducted a strip search on a 12-year-old girl without her parents present to advocate for her.”
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The girl told her story in a phone interview:
Okay, I was coming home to Baltimore, Md., from Siesta Key, Fla., and I was with my friend and her parents and I was going to this airport security check.
I put my bag through, and they pulled me aside and told me to go over here. I thought it was some high-tech scan and I walked right through it and this lady said ‘”Hold on, you can’t just walk through this thing. Put your feet on the yellow footsteps and make a triangle above your head.” I guess it was so they could see my whole body.
I heard a beep and she said, “Okay you can leave.”
I heard one of the guards say “affirmative on the female,” and I knew they were talking about me. And that made me worried.
I couldn’t see my friend and her dad, and I was really worried that I was separated from them. I was trying to look happy when I saw them but inside I was really scared.
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When the girl first got home to Baltimore, she didn’t mention the beaches she’d visited or her trip to the aquarium. All she wanted to talk about was what happened at the airport.
“Why did they pick me?” the girl asked her mother.
Nemphos wasn’t sure. She couldn’t imagine the Transportation Security Administration needing to scan a 12-year-old girl for weapons.
Paul Susie, the parent who was with his daughter and Nemphos’ in Tampa, said it all happened so fast.
“I didn’t know it was optional,” he said. “But I thought it was ridiculous that a 12-year-old girl got picked for that.”
He said he was not notified she would be taken to the other line.