Sarah Fleming, 18, urged passage of a resolution to ban the use of 'mosquito' alarms in response to perceived or actual anti-social behavior by young people. (Photo: Baptist Union of Great Britain)
After a passionate speech from an 18-year-old, British Baptists passed a resolution condemning the use of 'mosquito' alarms to deter anti-social behavior among young people.
The Baptist Assembly, a gathering of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and BMS World Mission, was held in Bournemouth, England, on May 1-4.
Sarah Fleming from Abingdon Baptist Church in Oxfordshire proposed the resolution calling upon the government to ban 'mosquito' alarms, which emit a very high-pitched sound that is inaudible to most people older than 24 and intolerable to most people under that age. They are mainly fitted by shopkeepers in order to force young people to move away from their premises. Some 3,500 'mosquito' alarms have been fitted in the United Kingdom.
"'Mosquito' alarms are about discrimination. They specifically target one group in society," Fleming said. "Suppose a local shopkeeper invented a device to move away old people because they are slow and got in the way of younger shoppers? Or a device to move away disabled people because he found them embarrassing? Or a device to move away black people just because they were black? We would be up in arms, and rightly so. So how can it be fair to target young people? We should oppose them because they do not target crime, they target anyone under 25, including those who are law abiding, and toddlers and babies who cannot move away."
"'Mosquito' alarms do nothing to address the causes of youth crime," she added. "In fact they make the problem worse. They are modified from devices invented to deal with rats. Using them on young people sends out a message: 'You are not welcome. We do not want you here. We will deal with you like we deal with vermin.' Put bluntly, if you treat young people like vermin, do not be surprised if they behave like vermin."
Following the passing of the resolution on May 4, the Baptist Assembly will now call upon the government to ban 'mosquito' alarms and ask local churches to work with other agencies and services to reduce youth crime and disorder.
The Baptist Assembly also resolved unanimously to call upon the government to improve rights for asylum seekers by conferring a right to work upon asylum seekers who have waited longer than six months for their case to be finally resolved and by bringing to an end the detention of children. The Assembly welcomed the work of the Independent Asylum Commission and urged that proper consideration is given to its wide-ranging recommendations.
During the four-day gathering, there was a range of seminars intended to inspire and encourage delegates. Among them, Andy Duncan, chief executive of Channel 4, chair of the Media Trust and member of a Baptist church in Croydon, explained how he squared his faith with the demands of running Channel 4 and some of the issues facing the broadcast media industry in future years.
Some of the issues Duncan described in his seminar included the impact of the new digital world and its implications; the role of the media in society, politics and religion; and the role of public service broadcasting in its responsibility to deliver certain types of programming.
He also encouraged and urged churches to work with new technologies and the media, particularly in the way they seek to engage with children and young people. "The media world is changing very fast, especially for 5 to 10 year olds and with the role of social networking web sites," Duncan said. "It is becoming really important that churches are media savvy, particularly in relating to young people."