By Ruth Ogechi Udeh, Summer Times Staff Writer
It was reported on the National Public Radio—NPR by Michaela Winberg on Friday, July 5—that in order to keep teenagers out of parks at night, Philadelphia has installed sonic devices, also known as the “Mosquito”, that plays sound that is meant to be heard by teenagers between the ages 13 and 25 in parks. If you look at the rec center building at Philadelphia’s East Poplar Playground, you’ll see a small beige speaker screwed into the wall. When the speaker activates at 10 p.m. every night, it plays for eight hours nonstop.
According to the report and detailed research, sonic devices are war weapons and sounds produced by these devices are used to injure, incapacitate, or kill an opponent. Sometimes, this technology is used to keep humans or animals away from a designated area as seen in this case. Extremely high-power sound from these sonic devices can cause damages to the eardrums which may lead to loss of hearing while low-power sound can lead to nausea, dizziness or loss of balance.
The first time I heard the sound for few seconds, I felt a sharp pain in my head and a sudden rise in my body temperature. This issue raised a few concerns about how the people who live close by will feel after 8 hours of hearing it play nonstop.
In a bid to keep certain “unwanted people” out of the parks at night, innocent people who sometimes don’t visit the park but live near the park and falls within the targeted age group will have to pay for what they know little or nothing about. This made me sympathetic towards those whose houses do not have soundproof walls.
“It is very loud right?” said Natalya Subowo, from Indonesia and living in Dunbar. “So if you live near there are you are not even going to the park but you are still between ages 13 to 25, it is very unfair for you to hear the sound. I feel like it is unfair for those people who have to listen to it in their houses or if they are just walking around.”
In support of this, Santiago Caballero, from Venezuela and in Main Street dorm, has this to say: “Sometimes, teenagers do stuff they are not supposed to do for their age but that is just a group of teenagers that don’t know how to control themselves or follow the law. That is only a group of them. I don’t think all teenagers should be punished for that.”
Also, the Mosquito is being installed as one part of an overall anti-vandalism strategy, which includes fences and gates, security cameras and night watch staff. However, the government did not take into consideration that not only people between ages 13 and 25 are capable of vandalism, making it unfair that only people within the aforementioned age group can hear the sound produced by this acoustic deterrent device.
Personally, I do not see any problem with teenagers wanting to hang out at night at the park. Here is what Megan Wang, from Taiwan, in Merrill Hall, has to say: “As a public facility, I don’t think it is a problem for teenagers to go out at night. If any emergency happens, they will need to cross a park. They will need to call someone for help. Maybe a park will be just by them.”
The installation of the Mosquito is in itself insulting and unnecessary. The whole idea is appalling.
“It is kind of disturbing.” said Friedrich Henle, from Germany, in Soule. “I think it is a bit unnecessary because I don’t know what exactly is the problem with teenagers being in parks at night.”
Touching the matter of whether it is fair or not, here is Friedrich’s opinion: “Well, I guess it is meant to keep teenagers from the parks and it works, I guess it is okay then.”
From looking at the situation from another perspective, rather than criticize the government, Megan Wang offered an alternate method to tackle the situation at hand.
“Education will be a way more applicable method,” said Megan.“Telling teenagers why we want to prevent them from going out at night and what are the consequences. Raising awareness will be way more pleasing than using a sound like this that harms teenagers mentally and physically.”
Reporting for NPR, Michaela Winberg said, “For now, Philadelphia is moving forward with installation. Despite the backlash and the numerous complaints, two new Mosquito devices are currently being installed at other city playgrounds as part of major renovation projects.”
After evaluating the situation, I began to wonder, “Are the teenagers that much of a threat that the government would use war weapons to keep them out of the parks at night?”