Posted by: chlost | September 5, 2010

Keep them away, or keep them close?

I heard a report this past week on NPR about high-frequency sound being used as a deterrent for teens. 

Sounds like pest removal.

Apparently, a man has begun to market a product which produces a very high-pitched sound that teenagers can hear, but old folks cannot. Hear. Their hearing has gone to hell. Because they are old.

Eh? What did you say?

They played the sound as part of the report. I couldn’t hear it. Neither could my husband. We didn’t have any teens in the car. I don’t know if it would have sent them scurrying off like so many roaches, searching for relief from the horrible noise.

So, I thought, I am old after all. And even more importantly, I am married to an old man.

It did give me a few other thoughts as well.

How did they figure out this method of teen repellant? Well, according to the report, the man realized it when his daughter complained about a sound that he could not hear. His old man brain had an aha! moment, and he realized that there could be a market for this. Perhaps a lucrative market. So, he figured out a way to make the noise in a cost-effective manner and is now marketing it to store owners, movie theaters, police, and others who want to repel teens from their premises.

This brought me to my next thought. “Why are they trying to repel teenagers?”  The explanation given on the report was that horribly bothersome teens were gathering on street corners, outside of businesses, and in general were gathering in ways which made older people-read customers-uncomfortable. Frightened, even.

Because any gathering of two or more teenagers dressed as, well, teenagers, is a gang, and they are dangerous.

Just so you know.

Here is my problem with all of this. I work with teenagers. I like teenagers. I see teenagers who have had the worst lives any adult could ever imagine. Many of them are surviving despite any adult in their life. Some of the kids that are the most dangerous looking are really the most resilient, strong and intelligent people I know.

Why would we want to repel them?

They have ideas, knowledge, skills, and feelings. They almost always have money (don’t go there!).

Is it too radical a theory to consider possibly talking to these kids, working with them, channeling their energy, savvy and charm for something that could be of mutual benefit to society and them?

I guess so. They are seen as the enemy by many middle class adults.

There is a saying, (I don’t know who said it, and I probably don’t have the quote exactly right because I am not good at that stuff) to the effect that you should “keep your friends close and your enemy closer”.

If the kids are indeed the enemy, keep them close. You may be surprised to find out that they are not actually your enemy, but are just like you. 


Trying to make it.

In a world that sees them as bad and dangerous and has tried to repel them their entire lives.



  1. I like teens, too. The ones I know best are bright and funny and helpful. I also know some who are plain damn wicked. But that’s my same experience with adults.

  2. I’m not sure why people think teenagers are so bad. I think in many cases it ends up a self-fulfilling prophecy; you have your mind set they are going to be bad…so they are.

    I don’t like the idea of repelling anyone based on age. What if ‘young’ people decided to try it on the ‘old’ people because they didn’t want them to go to places they like to hang out? I know, silly, right?

    • I totally agree. I think kids live up to or down to our expectations most of the time.

  3. What a mean-spirited approach to teens. I have a house-full right now and I kind of like them.

    But I did hear of an interesting use of that technology – cell phone rings set at a frequency too high for the over-twenty crowd to hear – so they can be alerted in class wen they are supposed to have their phones off!

    • The program talked about that, as well. Technology has two sides and can be used for good or evil…….. 🙂

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