Philadelphia Using Sonic Devices to Deter Teen Loitering - Should Other Cities Do the Same?
Do you support sonic devices to deter teen loitering?
by Causes | 7.11.19
What’s the story?
- In an effort to prevent loitering, 30 parks in Philadelphia have installed a device called the Mosquito that casts high frequency noises only people 25 and under can hear.
- The Mosquito emits the piercing, high-frequency buzzing sounds from around 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
What are people saying?
- Lauren Cox, deputy communications director in the Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia, told TODAY that Philadelphia Parks and Recreation introduced the Mosquito to deter overnight crimes.
- “Every Parks and Rec site has unique safety needs,” Cox said. “These devices are one approach, taken in collaboration with residents and partners, to address overnight safety and vandalism issues. However, due to recent feedback, an internal review of the use of overnight sonic devices is currently underway.”
- “It very clearly discriminates against young people,” said Brian Conner, 20, president of the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA). “It punishes non-criminal behavior, and the idea that youth are more prone to commit crimes than adults is just wrong.”
- Michael Gibson, president of the Mosquito’s manufacturer, Moving Sound Technologies, denies the discrimination charge, and says the device is intended for private property.
- “We do install in the parks in Philadelphia, but… they’re not actually activated until the park or rec center becomes private property,” Gibson told Billy Penn. “People have the right to protect their property.”
- “We have them [the Mosquito] turned on and it definitely does deter that kind of activity,” said First Deputy Commissioner, Susan Slawson. “At Chalfont [park] we have security cameras as well. While one has nothing to do with the other, we’ve actually been able to look at the security cameras since we’ve had the Mosquito devices and we don’t see those young people hanging around after hours. They actually leave.”
- Gibson added that the devices are cheaper and more efficient than hiring a security guard, and can help keep teenagers and youth safe. Slawson agreed with his claims.
- “It’s really a great thing for the community and also good for the teenagers because if it’s a school night and you’re hanging around the rec center, when you hear that noise, you’re gonna go home.” Slawson said.
“So, It’s beneficial in more ways than just preventing vandalism and violence; it protects the kids.”
- Despite Philadelphia’s enthusiasm over the Mosquito's effectiveness, the device is banned in several cities around the world. The device was installed at Gallery Place Metro Station in Washington, D.C., in 2010. NYRA members filed a complaint against the Mosquito for age discrimination. This resulted in the city asking the manufacturer to remove the devices.
- In 2008, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child asked the United Kingdom to reconsider the use of the Mosquito device as they may violate children’s rights. Two years later, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly agreed, saying that government agencies in their 47 member states should ban the device. Following the ruling, at least four counties in England have banned the Mosquito.
What do you think?
Do you support the use of sonic devices targeted at teens? Are they beneficial for stopping crimes? Or do you consider them a violation of minor rights? Why or why not? Let your reps know then share your opinions below.
(Photo Credit: MST Technologies)
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