February 13, 2009 / 4:30 PM / 10 years ago

Britain's 13-year-old father a symbol for society

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A school boy of 13 has become one of Britain’s youngest dads, underlining concern about the rate of teenage pregnancies in the country.

Four-foot Alfie Patten, who looks considerably younger than his age, was just 12 when his 15-year-old girlfriend Chantelle Steadman conceived after a night of unprotected sex.

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said the “tragic” case illustrated the country’s social decline.

“It exemplifies the point we have been making about broken Britain,” he told London’s Evening Standard newspaper.

“It’s not about being accusative: it’s about pointing out the complete collapse in some parts of society of any sense of what’s right and wrong.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was not familiar with the individual case, but told Sky TV: “All of us would want to avoid teenage pregnancies.”

Maisie Roxanne was born in Eastbourne on Monday and police said that despite both children being underage they would not be looking into the case.

In a short video clip posted on YouTube, the lad, whose voice has not broken yet, said he did not know how he would support his family.

In an interview with the Sun newspaper he said: “I thought it would be good to have a baby. I didn’t think about how we would afford it. I don’t really get pocket money. My dad sometimes gives me 10 pounds.”

A family charity blamed government policy.

“Unless we begin to seriously address the issue of underage sexual activity, we shall continue to see cases like this,” said Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern.

“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.”

Wells said in a statement that young people did not need more sex education, but a complete change of focus.

“We need to challenge the common perception of sex as a casual recreational activity and present it rather as an expression of the total self-giving of a husband and wife to each other in marriage.”

Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato

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