It seems like some bizarre Terry Gilliam movie. But this is no “Brazil”-like dystopic future of an overcrowded planet. It is now. The 13-year-old, barely 4-foot-tall Alfie Patten, pipes, “I know I’m young, but I plan to be a good dad.” The entire time, he is cradliing his newborn child in his arms, playing Playstation.
“I think we’ll be good parents. I’ll have to work extra hard at school.”
Teenage pregnancy, especially underage teenage pregnancy, is a difficult responsibility for any young person to shoulder. It is very difficult for a young girl, but what about a young boy? According to the British tabloid, The Sun, 13-year-old Alfie, is finding out just how difficult it really is. But it could take awhile. He’s only been a father for a few days.
When he was asked how he would support the baby financially, he asked, “What’s ‘financially?'”
The baby’s mother is 15. Her name is Chantelle. It seems that 14-year-old Chantelle missed one day in her regimen of birth control pills the first day young Alfie ever had sex. The parents of the children had allowed a ‘sleepover.’
The product of that ‘sleepover’ was born Monday, February 9. They named the little girl Maisie.
Child services in Eastbourne, which is in southeast England, said they are fully aware of the 14-year-old girl who was impregnated by a 12-year-old boy, and they were doing what they could to offer “support to the young people.”
Chantelle told The Sun, “When I was pregnant the police and social workers came to interview us and they decided that we would make good parents to Maisie.” She talks of Alfie reaching the ripe age of 16 and moving in with her and her family. She continued, “We don’t want to get a flat because we wouldn’t have enough money and I want us both to stay in school to make the best future for Maisie.”
According to the Associated Press, Britain reigns as Europe’s teen pregnancy capital. The island nation accounts for 27 teen pregnancies per 1000 teenagers, nearly triple the nearest nation, Spain (10 per 1000). Although Brook, a United Kingdom sexual advice group (for those under the age of 25), reported that the rate was down 12% since 1998. In 1999, Tony Blair vowed to turn the rate around. He did, but only marginally.
Alfie’s 19-year-old half-sister, Nicole, places the blame squarely on the father. She believes that Alfie’s being abandoned three years ago by his father, Dan Patten, who is the father of ten children all told, left him directionless. Then he was failed by his mother, who had to deal with her three children alone, because Dan, in his abandoning, ran off with a 19-year-old friend of one of his daughters. Dan Patten is 45.
Nicole says that Dan Patten seemed disinterested when he was told that his son was a father.
But then, in the window of Alfie’s mother’s flat, a sign declares, “I Am Horny.”
It would seem that little Alfie Patten actually had plenty of direction. As did Chantelle, who has five brothers of her own. The parents of both children deny knowing that the two had a sexual relationship until Chantelle became pregnant.
And then there are those who are skeptical, claiming that Alfie may not be the father. And the already sordid tale becomes more tawdry with the shadow of promiscuity. Chantelle’s mother, Penny, gets understandably irate when the subject is broached, defending her daughter and maintaining she was a virgin until she and Alfie got together. Still, there is no indication that a paternity test has been conducted.
The story has received such publicity that even Britain’s politicians are weighing in on the matter. According to The Sun, Children’s Secretary Ed Ball emphasizes that although it may not look like a terrible situation, it must be remembered that the young people need support. “And it’s also vital,” he said, “that we do everything we can to make sure that these kind of teenage pregnancies don’t happen in the future.”
Centre for Social Justice think tank director, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, said that Alfie and Chantelle’s situation is indicative of what he calls “Broken Britain.” He said, “It’s not being accusative, it’s about pointing out the complete collapse in some parts of society of any sense of what’s right and wrong.”
Nigel Waterson, the local Member of Parliament, said that it was a “sad story” that would impact both the parents and the children. He is endorsing increased sex education.
But as Alfie Patten’s predicament becomes international news, highlighting the United Kingdom’s underage teenage pregnancy problem, the United States would do well to take note. The U. K.’s 27 pregnancies per 1000 pales in comparison to the United States, which has a rate of 44 per 1000 females. Even invoking the term “sex education” in the U. S. is met with cautious political correctness or outright negativity and refusal to countenance any realistic proposals for altering the situation. It is a subject that is as open as the children of children running around in countless homes and day care facilities thoughout the country, but nearly as socially untouchable or unbroachable as necrophilia.
According to the Associated Press, the youngest known father in the United Kingdom was a 12-year-old London boy who impregnated a neighbor in 1998.
Dan Patten, Alfie’s father, told the press that he would have a talk with his son. “Some may say it’s too late but he needs to understand so there is not another baby.”
Mr. Patten is apparently from the old school of thought that espouses: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
In case curiosity has taken hold, males can impregnate females from the age of six or seven, although it is an extremely rare occurrence. Most young males begin hormonal changes during puberty, which usually begin around the age of 12 years, wherein said changes produce mature sperm. (TheSun.com)