A gamin-faced schoolboy who has apparently fathered a child with his 15-year-old girlfriend is the talk of Britain, a country with the highest rate in Europe of pregnancies among unmarried teenagers. Alfie Patten, who is just over 4ft tall and looks younger even than his 13 years, was only 12 when he got Chantelle Stedman, who was then 14, pregnant. The birth of their child, Maisie Roxanne, last week has occasioned outrage and hand-wringing in equal proportions. The consensus among the more enlightened commentators is that the event is no surprise in a society saturated with sexual messages, including a type of sex education that talks almost exclusively about having sex “safely” and barely mentions “relationships” let alone the marital meaning of sex or abstinence.
The two young people seem to live in a socially deprived area of public housing. They met through their mothers, and Alfie, one of nine children, was allowed to stay over at Chantelle’s house — to give his mother a break, according to neighbours. Alfie was often seen emerging in the morning in his school uniform. In an interview with The Sun tabloid he said he intended to care for the child. Asked what he would do financially, he replied: “What’s financially?”
This is a sad tale of children brought up without a clear moral code and character formation. It appears that Chantelle’s father left her mother — a known risk factor for premature sex among girls. Neighbours allege that cannabis was smoked at the house. There was fighting with neighbours. A classic case, apparently, of what has become known as “breakdown Britain”.
One thing the children did right was to “decide” against having an abortion. But pro-life and family groups are urging a drastic rethink of Britain’s attitude to sex education. As Melanie Phillips notes in an article about “the sheer madness of sex education that teaches nothing about morality”, “The International Planned Parenthood Federation promotes sexual pleasure as a 'valid sexual and reproductive health need for all young people' – defined as aged ten to 24.”
Norman Wells, of Family and Youth Concern said: “Unless we begin to address the issue of underage sexual activity we shall continue to see cases like this. The Government's teenage pregnancy strategy with all its emphasis on sex education and making contraception freely available to young people is creating a climate in which teenagers think it is normal to be sexually active under the age of 16.” ~ Daily Telegraph, Feb 13