by Beverly Eakman
April 8, 2008
Somehow I missed this news item, and maybe you did, too. Then again, perhaps the mainstream media took pains to keep this one quiet, hoping the fire wouldn’t hit the fan.
It seems that in 2003 an honor student in Arizona at Safford Middle School named Savana Redding, an eighth-grader with no disciplinary record, was strip-searched — and I mean really strip-searched, down to the crotch of her panties — in pursuit of nonprescription ibuprofen tablets. [See the end of this article for links to news stories.] Ibuprofen is the equivalent of the pain-relieving ingredient in Advil, Motrin, etc…, and never known to provide a “high” or to be addictive. Two such pills (the typical dosage) supposedly equal “prescription strength” — providing school authorities just enough wiggle room to go to extremes.
Today, under the absurd “no tolerance” drug policies in schools, no type of medication, from aspirin to Alka-Seltzer and Pepto-Bismol, is allowed unless it is given to the school nurse by a parent, and then dispensed by the nurse to the student. In other words, it is easier for a child to secure an abortion referral from a K-12 educational facility than it is to relieve a headache. Like the aggravations suffered by law-abiding passengers at airports in the name of terrorism, schoolchildren are deemed automatically guilty until proven innocent, and “probable cause” does not apply.
The strip-search story might have ended there, but for the fact that Savana’s case went to court (Redding v. Safford Unified School District) and two of the three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles (the same “circus court” that ruled against California homeschoolers in March) decided that the degrading search did not violate the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights — even though Savana’s mother was not alerted, the pupil had a stellar record and the U.S. Supreme Court had already held that searching any student’s person is constitutional only if “justified at its inception” and “reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified the interference….”
All the school had in this case was a flimsy allegation from another girl caught with such pills in her pocket (not her panties). Apparently, she was anxious to provide a source for the medication that did not include her buying them or bringing them from home. So, she offered another girl’s name, Savana Redding.
At stake now is a decision by the full court as to whether to overturn this ridiculous decision.
Given this court’s decade-long history of bizarre rulings, I wonder how many of the zealous judges were busy getting “high with a little help from their friends” during the flower-child era on 1960’s-era college campuses. Well, never mind. In an age when America’s top officials are caught up in prostitution rings (New York Governor Eliot Spitzer); adulterous affairs (New York Governor David A. Paterson, former President Bill Clinton); and illegal intoxicants (D.C. Mayor and Councilman-for-life Marion Barry); etc., some are clearly “more equal than others.”
Savana indicated she was not merely humiliated, but downright “scared” to object, because she feared worse if she didn’t comply. She said she kept her head down so they wouldn’t see her cry.
But here’s the clincher: The principal said he “didn’t think the strip search was a big deal”—because “they didn’t find anything.”
As most of us are aware since Columbine, kids with histories of troublemaking, outlandish dress, terrible classroom behavior and all sorts of offenses grace our nation’s classrooms, to the detriment of average students. Good parents hope that despite the education establishment’s ongoing tolerance of culture rot, anti-religion bias, and acquiescence on everything from gay clubs to “green” hysteria, their children will actually learn something.
What they are learning, however, is to accept and even endorse a police state. When individuals feel they must display their private parts for fear of incurring the wrath of government officials (including school administrators), a police state is already in the offing.
Schools disseminate intimate questionnaires with the expectation that pupils will divulge disparaging tidbits about their relatives. Some schools, as happened in Pennsylvania, give sixth-grade girls pro-forma genital exams in an effort to drum up “evidence” of pervasive sexual abuse by parents.
Whereas schools used to discourage “tattling,” today they encourage students to report on each other, even while denigrating the individual in favor of the collective. Surreptitious identification methods ensure that youngsters’ opinions are tracked and monitored over time for political correctness, then linked with other potentially damaging family information, should an occasion arise down the road when it becomes “necessary” to demean a troublesome individual once he or she reaches adulthood.
All this has been going on for some 25 years — so long that teachers, principals and superintendents under the age of 50 have little or no memory of a time when privacy actually was important and humiliation was unacceptable. While government agencies devise all manner of legislative tricks to mislead people into believing that their privacy really is guarded, the fact is these gestures are empty. Recent examples include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (a.k.a. “the HIPAA law”); signing for every prescription upon pick-up; and standing so-many-feet behind the person ahead in a pharmacy or bank-teller line. It’s all for show.
News was made when celebrity talk show host Rush Limbaugh suffered though the chagrin of having his Viagra prescription inspected by overzealous carry-on handlers at an airport in 2007. The name on the prescription bottle was his doctor’s instead of himself precisely to avoid embarrassment, as he had recently experienced great difficulties overcoming the pain of unsuccessful back surgeries and subsequent near-deafness. But because he was a celebrity — and a conservative, to boot — no humiliation was deemed too great, and his prescription container made headlines. No one mentioned anything about “intoxicants” or “probable cause” then, either.
However, it didn’t even make the local newspaper when a nicely dressed, Caucasian, 50-something lady, with no history of confrontational behavior, was hauled out of a similar airport security line at the Dulles International Airport. Around her neck was a tiny cloth strap securing a drivers license and boarding pass visible through a thin, transparent pocket. The device is still sold expressly for airport security lines, so that important ID’s cannot be inadvertently dropped or lost. A female screener ordered her — not very politely — to take it off and place it in on the conveyer belt. The passenger respectfully explained that the ID holder was approved specifically for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and she asked to keep it through the metal detector.
That was all it took. Immediately, the hapless passenger was submitted to a full-fledged pat-down (with the agent hitting her deliberately in the crotch with the wand). When the traveler expressed shock, she was told to “just shut up.”
Unfortunately, the lady couldn’t really hear the screener because her back was turned at that point, and her hearing aid was in the security bowl to avoid setting off the alarm! The lady’s husband had to intervene to facilitate communication, thereby delaying them both — for no reason other than the passenger was deemed non-compliant.
Incongruously, in the security line parallel to the one this couple was navigating, a Middle Eastern woman wearing the Muslim head-scarf was a TSA agent examining that line’s carry-on baggage!
Do we really want to live in a country whose officials deliberately harass and embarrass good citizens and humiliate honor students? If we do, then we must have learned a lot more from the Marxists who organized the protests of the 1960’s and ’70s than demonstrating, agitating and rioting.
Come to think of it, we’re not doing much of that sort of thing anymore. Where are the hordes of “conscientious objectors” rushing to the aid of Savana Redding? For that matter, where are the Republican conservatives and the libertarians?
For further information on the Savana Redding case, see:
1, “The School Crotch Inspector,” by Jacob Sullum, April 2, 2008.
2, “9th Circuit to Reexamine Student Strip-Search Case,” by Mark Walsh, Education Week,
3, “School strip search of girl, 13, goes to court,” Associated Press, March 27, 2008,
4, Or search Google by typing “Savana Redding+9th Circuit Court” for additional stories.
© 2008 - Beverly Eakman - All Rights Reserved
Beverly K. Eakman is a former teacher and retired federal employee who served as speechwriter for the heads of three government agencies. Today, she is a Washington, DC-based freelance writer, the author of five books, and a frequent keynote speaker on the lecture circuit. Her just-released book is Walking Targets: How Our Psychologized Classrooms Are Producing a Nation of Sitting Ducks (Midnight Whistler Publishers).
She can be reached through her website: