This case study was written for Together’s 2016 ‘State of Children’s Rights’ report by Roseanna Macdonald, Public Affairs Officer and Erin McAuley, MSYP for Cunningham South at the Scottish Youth Parliament. The case study headlined the chapter for Civil Rights and Freedoms.
“Mosquito devices send a message to young people that they aren’t welcome in their own communities. This abuse of our human rights from childhood to early adulthood doesn’t make shops and public spaces safer, it’s divisive and makes young people feel alienated.”
– Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.
The mosquito device has been branded as a ‘successful’ deterrent for anti-social behaviour. Not only does this paint all young people as troublemakers, the use of the device stops them from being able to enjoy community spaces in the way that older people are entitled to. The device, which tends to be located in community spaces like shopping centres, reduces young people to the category of ‘nuisance’, disregarding their presence in the community as anything other than anti-social. As a result, young people are being unfairly targeted as they go about their daily business:
“It’s really not fun when you’re trying to shop or are taken shopping with your parents and you have no choice but to just try and ignore it.”
Where the device is active in my community is next to one of the biggest shopping centres. Several young people work in this area and so their working environment is also affected.
The device also negatively affects health, with young people reporting that it can trigger headaches and make them feel sick. 64.5% of young people recently surveyed by SYP said that they were worried about the impact the device had on their health.
“Sometimes the mosquito device outside a shopping centre I go to triggers my migraines and is totally unnecessary.”
On top of this, young people’s sense of wellbeing and inclusion is impacted. 71% of young people surveyed said they felt like the device made them feel like they aren’t welcome in their own community, while 77% said that they felt discriminated against because of their age.
Mosquito devices are marketed as helping to make communities ‘safer’. In reality, they sow division by discriminating against, and negatively affecting, young members of the very community they claim to protect.
Erin McAuley, MSYP for Cunningham South, is one of many young people to experience the mosquito device in her town. Erin reports:
A device was clearly in place and this was confirmed when I spoke to those who fitted it. It was being used as an antisocial behaviour device due to a small minority of young people. This was both frustrating and annoying. In an attempt to overturn this, I engaged with young people across my town, and gained the support of local youth workers and my council cabinet. These efforts ultimately failed and I was told the device was ‘essential’ and a ‘cheap’ option to deal with anti-social behaviour. The device is still on every night of the week between 8pm until 2am.
As well as the issues outlined above, using the device does not tackle the root causes of anti-social behaviour, nor is any engagement held with young people when the devices are being considered. I question deeply the rights issues regarding the use of low-level sonic weapons on children.
The Scottish Youth Parliament along with other children’s organisations will continue to campaign to stop the use of mosquito devices in Scotland.
The use of Mosquito devices is an ongoing issue which Together, alongside the Scottish Youth Parliament and others, continue to advocate against. It has been consistently recommended to Scottish Government to ban the use of the devices immediately. See Together’s State of Children’s Rights 2016 report, page 46 for more information.