The Mosquito anti-teenager sound device, which we’ve covered on this site a few times, was yesterday heavily criticised by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, launching the BUZZ OFF campaign in conjunction with Liberty and the National Youth Agency:
Makers and users of ultra-sonic dispersal devices are being told to “Buzz Off” today by campaigners who say the device, which emits a high-pitched sound that targets under 25 year olds, is not a fair or reasonable solution for tackling anti-social behaviour. The campaign… is calling for the end to the use of ultra-sonic dispersal device. There are estimated to be 3,500 used across the country.
The BUZZ OFF campaign will be driven by young people who have been affected by the device and will aim to provoke debate and thought amongst parents, government, businesses, the police and others about the increasingly negative way society views and deals with children and young people.
The government has said it has no plans to ban the Mosquito.
The main point here is of course that the use of the Mosquito is in effect discriminatory architecture, designed to punish/annoy/prevent/target one particular group of people, whether or not those individuals have actually done anything wrong – as Sir Albert told the BBC:
These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving.
It’s the same mentality as removing benches because you don’t like the sort of people who use benches (or demonstrated by other techniques in this area). Many different points of view on the subject have been expressed by commenters here over the last couple of years, from kids fed up with being assumed guilty, to members of the public fed up with kids hanging around and intimidating people.
As with blue lighting in public toilets, the Mosquito is unlikely to solve the ‘problem’ at hand: it will simply move it elsewhere. It’s displacing the symptom rather than curing the illness, and – as has been pointed out in numerous recent news stories – it exemplifies a pervasive antipathy towards young people which is rather disturbing (I mentioned this before in reference to the “device to stop young people congregating” search query which led someone to this site.) Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti – while I don’t always agree with everything she says – puts it very concisely:
What type of society uses a low-level sonic weapon on its children?
Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids.
The Mosquito has no place in a country that values its children and seeks to instill them with dignity and respect.
Incidentally, the 15 kHz, 17.5 kHz and 20 kHz wave files which I put on this site a couple of years ago before coming across the Mosquito-inspired Teen Buzz ringtone still bring more search engine traffic than any other article (the mobile phone moisture-detection stickers are a close second). If you’re interested in testing your hearing, the Free Mosquito Ringtones site has since done a better job with a wide range of frequencies.
Top image from Compound Security’s website; Buzz Off logo from Children’s Commissioner press release [Word document].