Update: More teens claim they fathered child, not 13-year-old British boy
UPDATE: I don't think this makes me feel any better about this story. Now, two other teens in Britain are claiming that they could be the father of a baby that 13-year-old Alfie Patten said he fathered. I'm pretty sure that's not good, either. And it says a lot about the young mother in this story, that now three boys are claiming to have had sex with her around the time baby Maisie was conceived.
Alfie Patten was only 12 when the child was conceived. According to this story, Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe. A total of 385 girls under the age of 14 became pregnant between 1998 and 2007. The United States dwarfs that, says Teenpregnancy.org, a site managed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. There are 750,000 teen pregnancies annually, according to the group, with eight in 10 of these pregnancies unintended and 81 percent are to unmarried teens.
And just last year it was reported that teen pregnancies were up in the U.S. for the first time since 1991. We even know that the kids who say they are going to stay virgins before marriage -- those who take virginity pledges -- aren't necessarily keeping that promise.
So, what's going wrong? You could blame Juno, Jamie Lynn Spears or Sarah Palin for glorifying teen pregnancy, but I think that's taking the easy way out. What we should do is make sure that we don't slash funding for programs that teach kids the consequences of having sex. A momentary pleasure can lead to a life-changing event.
And we have to start talking about this at home with our kids -- it seems in the case of the British boy, maybe earlier than ever -- so that they know how we parents feel. In the end, Mommas and Poppas, it is our responsibility.
-- Sherry Robinson