This particular story out of the UK might have many saying WTF and others simply shaking their heads or others, like me, trying to remember back to when I was 13 and wondering whether this was an outcome I was thinking about.
This is a story of little Alfie Patten, who at the tender age of 13 has managed to get his 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant. Not only did he get her pregnant, it seems that there was a conscious decision to have the child.
Now, I will be 39 this year and I am currently enduring the challenges of fatherhood with our firstborn. I would not say that I am struggling, to the contrary, I am loving it. Nevertheless, I am wondering how well equipped a 13-year-old father and a 15-year-old mother are to be facing these challenges.
By all reports, young Alfie is seemingly a natural and really good with babies. At 13 I would be suggesting that young Alfie is still pretty much a baby himself. However, the pair seem to have the future all mapped out. This includes sharing some of the parenting duties with the baby's grandparents. This is supposedly going to facilitate the pair staying in school and then making the most of their abilities in providing for the kid. Although Alfie seems equally at home with PlayStation and X-Box
The case is an interesting one. It is without a doubt a case to which local social workers will be paying a lot of attention to. Interestingly, the police investigated and decided that it was not in any one's interest to prosecute. This is probably so. A rape charge would seem pretty difficult to sustain and that would leave something like child neglect as a possible charge. Child neglect would also be pretty hard to sustain, unless of course the burden is on the parents to chain their children to the bed.
Let's face it, if the parent(s) have already discussed the "birds + bees" with their kids and the kids go out and do the deed, then really have the parents been neglectful or have the kids just been kids and ignored their parents advice and now have a serious set of consequences to deal with?
It is now that the recriminations will start. Who's at fault? Where did the system fail? Who should pick up the tab on this one?
I do not know that this is indicative of a crumbling social norm in Britain or anywhere else that teenage pregnancies occur. What it is indicative of is a need to reassess whether the idea of abstinence is a sustainable one. Perhaps greater emphasis and more serious levels of sex education (personal development training if you prefer) is necessary in schools so that youngsters are forewarned about the consequences and risks that they face if they engage in sexual behaviour.
At 13, I think I was pretty good on the Atari and I am pretty sure I was not thinking of bedding my girlfriend and becoming a dad. I am not even sure that I had a girlfriend.
The photo is subject to copyright (apparently). I tried to contact the paper that I lifted it from but they did not respond, but it can be found here. The photo is accredited to a Lee Thompson.