Cities throughout the United Staes have an issue with the ever-growing number of teens and young adults who stay out late at night. Adults in inner cities have long complained about rowdy teens vandalizing property, loitering and committing crimes. Now, The City of Brotherly Love has come under fire for using a controversial sonic device called “Mosquito” to deter teens from staying out late.
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Since 2014, Philadelphia began implementing Mosquito into high traffic areas where teens and young adults gather. The sound the device emits is reportedly only effective against anyone under the age of 25 as the auditory cells in those older than 25 have already begun to die off, NRP reported.
The sound consists of a high-pitch ringing noise that starts at 10 pm and doesn’t cease until early morning. The device, which was created by Moving Sound Technologies, has angered Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym, who argues the device is a “sonic weapon.”
“In a city that is trying to address gun violence and safe spaces for young people,” Gym explained, “how dare we come up with ideas that are funded by taxpayer dollars to turn young people away from the very places that were created for them?”
One teen resident, Lamar Reed, gave his opinion on the device. “It does feel a little [discriminatory] against teens,” Reed said. “It makes us feel like animals. Not all teens are bad, just because we want to go outside for a breath of fresh air at night.”
Experts are cautious about promoting the device as there are factors not being taken into consideration about the emissions from these high-frequencies. For one, children who cannot communicate yet could be hearing the sounds. Additionally, children with autism could have adverse effects from the device, Today reported.
The controversial devices have already been banned in Europe after several cities implemented them. Cities such as Washington D.C. had previously implemented the sonic device but later removed them due to an outcry from the community that argued age discrimination.
Mary Kate Riecks, a 27-year-old Philadelphia resident, complains that she can hear the device even though technically she is beyond the age range the device is targeted for. “It almost is more like a feeling than a sound. It’s kind of in the back of your head,” Riecks said. “At least for me, it gives me a headache if I’m near it for too long. So I usually skip around this block or walk very quickly down it.”
There are plans to implement additional devices in the community despite the backlash.