Long and short, a New Zealand library installed a noise device because of complaints by (presumably older) customers “about such issues as swearing, abuse, standover tactics and intimidating behaviour.” The device in question is marketed as an “ultrasonic teenage deterrent” that can be heard by anyone under the age of 25. Apparently these devices have been used elsewhere because we are told that, “politicians in the UK call[ed] for a ban [of the devices], saying they are discriminatory towards young people, discourage group gatherings and may be harmful to hearing.” And some children, particularly children with Down’s Syndrome or autism, are more sensitive to noise.
The idea of using weaponized noise to discourage teens from loitering outside a library is absolutely abhorrent. Yes, some teens revel in anti-social behavior, but as one child’s librarian noted, “I find it very strange they have decided to use this device during opening hours when really we all need be encouraging children to read.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. There must be a better way of discouraging anti-social behavior than treating everyone under the age of 25 years as part of the problem.