LONDON – A 13-year-old boy pictured in a British tabloid cradling an infant is reportedly one of the country’s youngest-known fathers.
Baby-faced and only 4 feet (1.22 meters) tall, the boy, Alfie, was just 12 when he impregnated Chantelle, now 15, The Sun said. Shown in a video posted Friday to the tabloid’s Web site, Alfie looks more like he’s 8 _ not 13 _ as he takes the newborn girl in his arms.
Asked what he would do to support the child financially, Alfie asks in a high-pitched voice, “What does financially mean?”
The girl was reportedly taking birth control pills but missed one, the newspaper reported. Friends and relatives left the family home near Eastbourne, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of London, without speaking to reporters waiting outside Friday. The teenagers could not immediately be contacted.
The Sun did not say whether any tests were conducted to prove the boy’s paternity.
Police and child services in Eastbourne, in southeast England, said in a statement that they were “aware of a 14-year-old girl that had become pregnant as the result of a relationship with a 12-year-old boy,” adding that they were offering support to both young people.
Alfie’s front page picture has sparked renewed debate about teen pregnancy in Britain. The country has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe, and government figures show that about 39,000 girls under age 18 became pregnant in 2006. More than 7,000 of those girls were younger than 16.
“I don’t know the individual details of the case, but of course I think all of us would want to avoid teenage pregnancies,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Friday.
Britain had 27 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 between 2000 and 2005, according to a report published by Population Action International. Comparable figures are 10 per 1,000 for Spain, 8 in 1,000 for France, and 5 in 1,000 for The Netherlands.
Britain’s teen pregnancy rate, however, is still far below that of the United States, which registers 44 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 and are more line with English-speaking countries such as Australia and New Zealand, which have 17 and 27 births per 1,000 women between 15 and 19, according to the report.
In a controversial move last year to tackle the high teen pregnancy rates, British education officials announced they would start introducing sex education earlier in English schools. Beginning next year, children as young as kindergarten age will be given basic sex education.
Local lawmaker Nigel Waterson called the situation “a very sad story which will have a huge impact on both the parents and the child,” adding that it raised “huge questions” about the sexualization of children in British society and the effectiveness of the country’s sex education.
The Sun said Chantelle gave birth Monday and that the newborn and her mother were released from the hospital Thursday.
In its profile, The Sun described Alfie as a boy whose voice has not broken yet and likes things boys usually like _ computer games and soccer.
“I thought it would be good to have a baby. I didn’t really think about how we would afford it,” The Sun quoted Alfie as saying. “I don’t really get pocket money. My dad sometimes gives me 10 pounds (about $15).”
Alfie’s father, Dennis _ who reportedly has nine children _ said his son told him it was the first time he had sex. He was reportedly allowed to sleep over at the girl’s house.
“It hasn’t really dawned on him,” Patten, 45, was quoted as saying in The Sun.
“I will talk to him again and it will be the birds and bees talk,” he said. “Some may say it’s too late but he needs to understand so there is not another baby.”
Britain’s youngest-known father was said to be a 12-year-old boy in a suburb north of London who impregnated a young neighbor in 1998.
Boys can usually impregnate a girl when they reach puberty, which is normally between the ages of 9 and 13.