Teen-repellent ultrasonic device violates kids' rights

There's a movement afoot in the UK to ban the Mosquito, an ultrasonic anti-teenager device that makes sounds in registers that only kids (supposedly) can hear. The Children's Commissioner for England says that the device -- which has been installed in more than 3,500 locations -- violates kids' rights.
“These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving,” Sir Al told the BBC. “The use of measures such as these are simply demonising children and young people, creating a dangerous and widening divide between the young and the old.”

[Simon Morris, commercial director of Compound Security Systems, which created and markets the Mosquito:] "Police forces will support me with this. Kids will come from various parts of a neighbourhood and congregate in that one spot, like the centre of a wheel," he said.

"What police find is that rather than one group of 20 or 20 kids in one location they will split into smaller groups and the smaller groups cause less problems. Of course it doesn't solve the long-term problem, but it does what it says on the box. It disperses the large groups."


See also: Kids turn "teen repellent" sound into teacher-proof ringtone


  1. I don’t know why the don’t just play classical music instead. It will have the desired effect. There is no way these problem kids will loiter outside a place playing ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’.

  2. If they’d played “Sugarplum Fairies” when I was a teen mall-rat, I would have organized an interpretive dance recital.

  3. I never did get the whole mallrat thing even when I WAS a teen. Thought they were gormless losers then and gormless losers now. My friends dragged me along once or twice, I got bored, went home and read a book.

  4. Ah, the UK. The place where they had a curfew in place for all kids, until a kid decided to break it intentionally and bring it before a human rights tribunal as age discrimination.

    There’s at least a decent chance mosquito will lose out.

  5. Classical music is definitely a better tactic. I’m 40, and I can hear that darn “Mosquito” just fine, thankyouverymuch — It’s really annoying, like a bad electrical connection noise.

    Music would be fairly unobtrusive. Adults wouldn’t mind, young children wouldn’t mind, and teens who aren’t likely to cause trouble wouldn’t mind. As a teacher, I’ve noticed that the sort of environments & upbringings that produce delinquents & criminals also instill a heightened intolerance of anything “foreign.” The students whom I generally have to discipline in class for disruptive behavior tend to be racist and make fun of others’ physical appearance and manners of speaking. For all their claims to be expressing “individuality,” they keep to a brutally strict “dress code” within their groups. Anyone who does not conform to this “code” is subject to ridicule or worse; and I’ve even seen that troublemakers will go so far as running away from or avoiding those who are “different” — a display of fear, oddly enough, for all their bravado. Because classical music is just not part of their little world, it would drive them away, leaving only those who either enjoy the music or at least accept that it is another way for music to be (even if it’s not to their preference).

    As for thugs like young Alex LeStrange and his droogs, however, the music might do little to discourage acts of… ultra-violence. (Cue Rossini’s overture to “The Thieving Magpie” here)

  6. This is stupid from the beginning in my opinion. Older people don’t hear the high sound, but they still perceive it. The result? Anything from mild headache to nausea. Younger people (interestingly, I hear the mosquito sound and I am 28) hear it and can avoid the thing. Older are helpless against it.

  7. This has always been a very foolish idea that creates more of a problem than it fixes.

    This has been pointed out elsewhere, but what happens when babies are exposed and can’t do anything to help themselves? Their incessant shrieking would surely be more of a nuisance than any group of teenagers.

  8. It’s not okay to blindly discriminate against black people or against women. Why is it okay to discriminate against teens?

  9. How does this violate anyone’s rights? Assuming I’m free to play some sort of music at my store at some volume, who is to say that music can’t be designed to drive a certain customer out the door? I’ve avoided businesses because they were playing some godawful music or another, but I don’t think my rights — as an old fart — were violated there. Do I have a right to be protected from annoying noises? If so, can we go ahead and ban overly-loud bass coming out of other folks’ iPods?

  10. Yeah, SUPERUSER2, they should just call the Cops ever time to get rid of the loiterers! We know how well THAT works!

  11. This just has bad idea written all over it.

    On the other hand, if they can determine the resonant frequency of neds and chavs, I’d greatly appreciate such a device.

  12. just make a sub-audible loop recording of a middle aged female voice “did you take the garbage out?is your homework done?did you do the dishes?”

  13. Why is it okay to discriminate against teens?

    It’s not discriminating against teens; it’s discriminating against loiterers. People hanging out in front of your business drive away legitimate customers. People end up choosing between shopping in better neighborhoods or dealing with the stress of wondering if they’re going to be asked for money, or maybe have to listen to a bunch of foul-mouthed jerks saying n-word this and “motherfucker” that.

    Sometimes the people hanging out are listening to music, doing tricks on their skateboards, or smoking. When I go shopping, I want a quiet, relaxing experience, not something noisy and stressful.

  14. Assuming I’m free to play some sort of music at my store at some volume, who is to say that music can’t be designed to drive a certain customer out the door?

    Indeed, and classical music has been used for that very purpose, to drive away young people.

  15. I’m in my 50s and I can hear those pitches just fine. One of the best things about the obsolescence of the CRT is that I don’t have to hear those squealing flyback transformers all the time. I don’t see how this can actually work, the noise didn’t ever seem to keep teenagers from watching television.

  16. Not EVERY person under 18 is looking to pick a fight. Not even the majority.

    I have every right to go to the mall, eat, and browse at Apple. Heck, I’m about to drop $2000 there. Or would you prefer I be banned from entering?

    This would be great if used specifically against menacing groups of teens. But used against every teen and child indiscriminately is just… evil. Unjustified. And stupid; it’ll drive away legitimate customers.

  17. The guy seems to think that the dispersing effect of the sound overrides its illegal nature. I’m not a vandal, but if I was unattended at a public place using one of those I’d give it a taste of my Dr. Pepper right down the circuit.

  18. You know, I’d completely forgotten about this tech, but now I know what that irritating speaker above the entrance to the grocery store I go to is for.

    I’m 34*, and I can hear it just fine.  It’s annoying, but not enough to make me choose another store.  There were often about 4 to 6 kids hanging around the store for no obvious reason prior to the installation of this, and they have in fact moved on.  On the other hand, the presence of a handful of youth near (but not blocking) the entrance never struck me as a “problem” in the first place.  Why they didn’t hang out at the Starbucks 50 feet away always escaped me.

    * My wife, who is 28, is now irritated that I can hear it and she can’t.

Comments are closed.