LONDON, England (CNN) -- A high-pitched device used to combat anti-social behavior among young people has been called "unfair" by children's campaigners in England.
"The Mosquito" has been used to combat anti-social behavior among young people across England
The Children's Commissioner for England, who oversees children's rights, has called for a ban on the ultra-sonic gadget, known as "The Mosquito," which disperses young people by emitting sharp, piercing sounds.
The device causes discomfort to younger ears by exploiting their ability to hear very high frequencies -- a power which declines once they reach their 20s.
But human rights groups say the machine infringes civil rights and creates a divide between young and old.
Launching the "Buzz Off" campaign, England's Children's Commissioner Al Aynsley-Green said: "I have spoken to many children and young people from all over England who have been deeply affected by ultra-sonic teenage deterrents."
Aynsley-Green said about 3,500 of the devices are in use across England to split up gatherings of youth in areas such as parks and shops.
"These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving," he added.
Youth leaders backed the campaign, adding that The Mosquito fails to address the root problems of anti-social behavior among youths -- and may even push teenagers to congregate in unsafe areas.
"Police, local authorities, and business instead should work collectively with young people and their communities to address the underlying causes of anti-social behavior in areas that cause concern," said Fiona Blacke, chief executive of the National Youth Agency, a government-funded group that works with young people on social development.
The Mosquito was invented by Howard Stapleton, from Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, and is manufactured by Compound Security Systems.
The company describes The Mosquito as an "ultrasonic teenage deterrent" and "the most effective tool in our fight against anti social behavior."
It says the device has a range of 15 to 20 meters and teenagers are "acutely aware of The Mosquito and usually move away from an area within an average of 8 to 10 minutes."
The company says The Mosquito has proved popular with shop keepers who buy it to move along gatherings of teenagers and anti-social youths. It could not be contacted for a response to criticism of the deterrent.
Railway companies have also placed the device to discourage youths from spraying graffiti on trains and station walls, Compound Security said.
The controversial gadget was first used by shopkeeper Robert Gough, from South Wales. He told The Times newspaper: "Either someone has come along and wiped them off the face of the earth, or it's working."
However, Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: "What type of society uses a low-level sonic weapon on its children? Imagine the outcry if a device was introduced that caused blanket discomfort to people of one race or gender, rather than to our kids.
"The Mosquito has no place in a country that values its children and seeks to instill them with dignity and respect." E-mail to a friend