By Yvette Martyn


Children have been omitted from a trial of x-ray body scanners at Manchester airport

I find it very interesting that children have been omitted from a trial of x-ray body scanners at Manchester airport, the news of the restriction made me believe there is a danger to the children from the level of radiation.

After all people should minimise their exposure to x-rays unless it be deemed entirely necessary, with the obvious example being to detect fractured bones. However, Sarah Barrett, head of customer experience at Manchester Airport claims, “passengers can go through this machine 5,000 times a year each without worrying, it is super safe and the amount of radiation transmitted is tiny”.

Imagine my astonishment to realise the restriction was due to the law regarding indecent images of children considering the further statement from Ms Barrett that, “the images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way.”

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that pornographic images of children are something the law should strive at all costs to prevent, looking back I wished such a stance existed 14 years ago, when my Gran had submitted a picture of me in the bath to the local village fete and I had to endure the fact that the residents of the village of Wansford had seen my naked body.

But I would like to pose the question, as somebody whose career prospects lie in the field of paediatrics, will there be a day when political correctness goes too far?

The threat to paediatric medicine

I do hope that there should never come a day when restrictions directly conflict with the interest of a child’s health, after all; examining a child occurs currently under the protective watch of a chaperone, and unless entirely necessary a parent is always present.

If this society gets any more politically correct I wouldn’t be surprised if a doctor is forced to conjure up diagnoses from a sketchy child’s history or worse still a ill baby babbling incoherently in front of them. Doctors may be forced to throw darts at a board chock-a-block with medical terminology, just to reach a diagnosis for the parents whilst protecting themselves from the accusations of abuse.

Have I gone a bit too far? Perhaps, currently this is only a trial, but how can it be implemented without being tested on children? Without knowing that children riddle and fiddle and do everything possible to avoid standing still whilst the image is taken?

Say it does get implemented and given the lack of research, the decision is made to continue to omit children, is this not a loophole for terrorists to indulge in? You have to reason with the fact that a 2006 terrorist plot catapulted baby milk into the realms of a terrorist’s weapon and reports of children suicide bombers continue to headline the papers.

So is this display of political correctness a step too far? I have to say yes, it can’t be that difficult, give the employees involved the same stringent checks of healthcare workers, destroy the images as soon as the verifications required have occurred and ensure parents that guaranteeing no child on the plane is carrying items which would put their child’s life in jeopardy is well worth having the image taken, checked and promptly destroyed.

Image: Graeme Weatherston /