LONDON – England's commissioner for children and a civil liberties group joined in on a campaign Tuesday to ban high-frequency devices intended to drive misbehaving children away from shops and other areas.
The so-called "Mosquito" device emits high-frequency noise which is audible — and annoying — to young ears, but generally not heard by people over 20.
"This device is a quick fix that does not tackle the root cause of the problem and it is indiscriminate," English Children's Commissioner Al Aynsley-Green said.
The campaigners claim that about 3,500 of the devices, made by a Welsh company, are in use.
Aynsley-Green said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio that the devices do not tackle the real problem, which is that children have no place to gather other than on the streets.
"I think it is a powerful symptom of what I call the malaise at the heart of our society," he said.
"I'm very concerned about what I see to be an emerging gap between the young and the old, the fears, the intolerance, even the hatred, of the older generation toward the young."
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, supported the campaign.
"Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids," Chakrabarti said. "The 'Mosquito' has no place in a country that values its children and seeks to instill them with dignity and respect."
The Mosquito's inventor, Howard Stapleton, has called for agreement about guidelines for using the devices.
"We tell shopkeepers to use it when they have a problem and I would be more than happy to introduce a contract which stipulates to shopkeepers how it can be used," Stapleton was quoted as telling the Western Mail newspaper.
"People talk about infringing human rights but what about the human rights of the shopkeeper who is seeing his business collapse because groups of unruly teenagers are driving away his customers?"