I'm not talking about the biting, parasite-carrying bugs here. Rather, I'm talking about the device invented by Howard Stapleton a few years ago, designed to prevent young people from loitering, congregating, or otherwise gathering due to the high-frequency noise it emits.
Lafayette Jefferson High School in Indiana was featured Sunday on NBC Chicago for installing one of these devices in a hallway where students tend to gather, creating traffic problems. According to the note on the NBC affiliate's website,
The idea is to keep students moving rather than congregating and blocking the stairs and elevator in the hallway.
Assistant principal Roger Francis said it's OK for students to congregate elsewhere, just not in that particular hallway, where a blockage could be a big problem in an emergency.
This sounds reasonable enough, but one has to wonder if this is really the appropriate solution to the problem. Billed on the company's website as "the most effective tool in our fight against anti social behaviour", the Mosquito is designed to be annoying for people under the age of 25, but largely inaudible to older adults who lose the ability to hear high frequencies.
The youth on Mosquito's website looks more than annoyed:
Should students need to go to school and be exposed to a sound that is at best annoying and at worst, unsafe? One German study questions the safety of the Mosquito device (thanks to Wikipedia for the translation; here's the original article in http://www.baua.de/nn_5858/de/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2007/12/pm079-07.html):
...the ultrasound affects not only hearing. Disruption of the equilibrium senses, as well as other extra-aural effects are well known. With the sound levels that can be reached by the device, the onset of dizziness, headache and impairment is to be expected. This is not the limit of the total risks to safety and health
On the other hand, does the risk to students if passages are blocked during an emergency justify this somewhat unorthodox approach?
What do you think?