TSA — Taking Security Apart

What does it take to feel secure? I wondered about this as I read about the new TSA body scans. As impossible as it seems to figure out how to keep millions of travelers safe, planning for the safety of one can be just as challenging. Women who’ve been abused are faced with this all the time. No one can build them a wall tall enough to keep out a persistent abuser or a machine to screen potential boyfriends for bad tendencies.

Really, what makes us feel secure? I think it is our community of friends and acquaintances. In my community, there is someone I can call any time day or night.  Someone who would bring me a pot of soup without asking. And, if they haven’t seen me in a while, someone who would knock on my door. I don’t have to rely on any one person. I have a whole network of people I can count on, and that makes me feel secure.

I think the reason people are upset about the TSA approach is that, in their gut, they realize it isn’t going to make us safer. But is there anything that can? Actually, other safety experts around the world have developed flexible approaches that prioritize engaging with each individual.

People often ask me how they can help someone who is being abused. It’s not so easy  — we can’t rely on an automated program or a machine to deal with coercive or violent people. But we can start by being a part of a network of friends paying attention. We can help her feel secure by listening to what she says. And we can make our approach nuanced in a way that the TSA is missing.

3 thoughts on “TSA — Taking Security Apart”

  1. The Israeli approach doesn’t really “engage” with people any more than folks at the border crossings might “engage” with you by asking a few questions. As the article says, the questions are superficial — they are only a pretext for scrutinizing your behavior.

    On the topic of helping those abused, I think you mean a deeper connection than that. Although, a superficial engagement in small talk along with watching how the person responds might reveal to you whether they’re in trouble or not — and whether you need to engage more deeply or not?

  2. Thanks for commenting on the post. I agree with you that superficial questions don’t equal deeper engagement. I hoped to point out that you need to actually talk and listen to people to build safety and security and not rely on automated processes to identify danger or abusive behavior.

  3. Leigh – great post. I loved how you took two seemingly unconnected strategies and tied them so well together. How Israelification focuses in on the individual (as opposed to creating mechanized processes) and how that has proven to be not only more efficient but more effective serves as a powerful analogy here. If Israel can protect its people without mechanized body-scanners, for example, then perhaps we can and should focus on smaller more personal solutions to protect our most vulnerable – rather than, as you pointed out, relying on automated processes that are costly and largely (as I am sure we will see) ineffective.

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