The Children's Commissioner for England joined civil liberties campaigners yesterday in a call for a ban on a device which disperses young people by emitting a high-pitched sound.
The gadget, known as the Mosquito, exploits young people's ability to hear high frequencies, which declines once they reach their 20s.
Campaigners say an estimated 3,500 of the devices are in use in England to disperse children and young people in areas such as parks, shopping centres and around shops.
Launching the "Buzz Off" campaign, Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green said the devices were indiscriminate and created a divide between young and old.
"I have spoken to many children and young people from all over England who have been deeply affected by ultra-sonic teenage deterrents," he said.
"These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving."
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: "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 instil them with dignity and respect."
The Mosquito was invented by Howard Stapleton, from Merthyr Tydfil. Mr Stapleton said a test case in the courts might be the only way of establishing the Mosquito's legality. He said he would be happy for "a fair usage" contract with shopkeepers to be drawn up.
The Association of Convenience Stores, which represents 33,000 local shops, also defended the devices.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "Unfortunately, in many locations around the country, retailers are victims of anti-social gangs of youths that congregate around their premises. These youths deter customers, intimidate staff and can commit vandalism and violence.
"Where a retailer is faced with this problem, we fully support the use of a Mosquito device sparingly and as a measure of last resort."
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: "Councils use an array of techniques to disperse groups of youths from specific areas.
"These include talking CCTV and the use of the so-called 'Manilow Method', where either opera, classical or unfashionable pop music is played. It is imperative that local people work with their local council to ensure the most appropriate technique for ensuing that not only anti-social behaviour is dispersed, but also that children have somewhere to go to release their energy in a safe place which does not disturb residents.
"Anecdotal evidence has shown that there are some children who record the Mosquito sound on their mobile phone so that they can hear it ring without attracting the attention of a teacher."