New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought suspension of the Delhi government’s ‘Desh Ka Mentor’ program till all the loopholes are taken care of.
This comes as the apex child rights body has expressed concern over children being exposed to unknown people through this program and the potential for crime and abuse.
“It has been stated in the response that to protect against violation, mentees are assigned mentors who are from the same gender, it is imperative to place here that abuse or assault or sexual or otherwise, is not gender biased but same gender does not necessarily assure safety of any child in any terms,” the NCPCR said in its letter to Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev earlier on Monday.
Asserting the program should be suspended till all loopholes pertaining to the safety of children are overhauled, the apex child rights body said that the response received appears to be “ineffectual in completely dousing the safety issues pertaining to the exposure of children towards unknown people leading to potential crime/abuse”.
Stated the personnel involved in dealing with the scheme do not seem to be gender sensitised and also seem to lack knowledge about the nuances of child sexual abuse, the NCPCR said they are also not aware about laws related to children, including POCSO Act, 2012 and JJ Act, 2015.
The commission said that the letter received is silent on the question of police verification and hence it seems no police verification is being done of the mentees to ensure safety of the children.
“It has been mentioned in the response that ‘registration process includes psychometric tests of the mentees before they are accepted into the program. Is this Psychometric Test analyzed/checked/scrutinized by professional practicing experts? Can this Psychometric Test identify Pedophiles or potential Pedophiles? the NCPCR asked, PTI reported.
Highlighting the response mentions that the interaction between the mentor and the mentee is done through phone calls, the apex child rights body said: “It may be noted that child related crime can be initiated through phone calls as well. For instance, children are susceptible to probable child trafficking through phone calls. Is there any mechanism to prevent the origin of cybercrimes and child trafficking?
“The response also presents that parents of the mentees enrolled fill their consent forms to allow their child to join the program. The consent of parents is indeed an essential prerequisite for involving children in such activities,” the commission added.
The NCPCR said this, however, does not help in preventing any violence abuse against children, adding the responsibility and accountability of preventing children from such situations lies with the department.
The commission further said the consent of parents cannot be used as a cushion in case of any untoward incident.
The NCPCR, which had earlier last month also written to the Delhi Chief Secretary in this regard, asked for a compliance report with supporting documents within seven days.
Earlier in October last year, the Delhi government had launched this programme, which has Bollywood actor Sonu Sood as its brand ambassador.
The students of Classes 9 to 12 of Delhi government schools will under this program be guided by dedicated mentors in exploring diverse career and life options.
(With PTI inputs)
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