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Joeprah's take on the 13-year-old dad

Today's Guest Dad is a new face on Charm City Moms -- stay-at-home dad and blogger Joeprah of Havre de Grace (aka Joe Schatz). He writes his own blog at Joeprah.com and is a contributor to the useful Dad blogs site.

Joeprah is writing today about the 13-year-old boy in the U.K. who says he fathered a child with his 15-year-old girlfriend. Word of warning: Joeprah writes, "This article is written with tongue firmly planted in cheek." But you'll find much of the information in news accounts like this one.

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Here's the rest:

(Again, tongue in cheek...) 

For many years the race to have the highest teen pregnancy rate among developed nations was very much a one sided affair.  Hungary, Canada, New Zealand, Australia-unfit to really even be in the race. The U.S. was lonely on top and quite simply dominated the competitors.  Now, however, it looks like the U.K. has finally started to "step up" and give the United States a real run for their money. 


Back in 1996 the U.K. was a distant fourth to the teen pregnancy juggernaut which is the United States, but through perseverance, dedication and maybe a little luck the Americans can now say, "The Redcoats are coming!" again.  That's right, the British are setting their sights on the U.S. once again, but this time they want the teen pregnancy title.

How are the Brits catching up?  Why have their teen pregnancy rates been increasing over the course of the past few decades?  Apparently, teachers have been told to teach teenage boys about the joy of early fatherhood.  Seriously.  Teenagers should be equipped with the required 'skills, knowledge and attitudes' so they are prepared to bring up babies, says the British Department of Health.  (If we are going to catch up to the Americans) Teachers should talk about ‘parenting aims and aspiration' with their students, says the U.K. government. 

Health lessons in the U.K. include ‘the enjoyment of fatherhood.'  These lessons are apparently being taken to heart by the British youth.  A recent bit of news illustrates just how serious the British youth are about being dads.  Just Monday we learned that three teenage boys are claiming paternity for a fifteen year old girl's recent child-the youngest of the boys, and supposed father, is 4 foot tall 13 year old Alfie Patten.  Alfie was twelve when he allegedly fathered the child and recently said this when asked about the other boys:

"Other stupid boys are lying, saying bad things, like they have slept with Chantelle, too. But I am the only boyfriend she has had and we've been together for two years, so I must be the dad. When she found out she was having a baby, I asked her, 'Am I the dad?' And she went, 'Yeah,' so I believe her."

Good work, Alfie!  But be sure to check with your teacher to see if health class awards extra credit points for paternity.

The Tories aren't convinced these teaching points are a good idea.  They caution that, by teaching these guidelines from the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Unit, schools may be glamorizing teen parenthood and condoning irresponsible sex.  The head of the pregnancy unit, Cathy Hamlyn, when asked about one of her outfit's publications that shows pictures of young boys with babies, said it was a ‘timely resource.'  She continues saying that teenage boys can be ‘proud and able parents.'

Alfie agrees with Ms. Hamlyn saying he will be a good dad.  "I know I'm young, but I plan to be a good dad." Alfie, in between turns on a PlayStation - said to a reporter, "I think we'll be good parents. I'll have to work extra hard at school." The police could have brought up charges of underage sex, but say they have said that they do not plan on getting involved.

 With tactics like these in place, the U.K. makes it clear that they not only want to close the gap between themselves and U.S. (when it comes to teen pregnancy) but overtake their rivals. 

Some spoilers to look out for are folks like Patricia Morgan, a researcher on teenage parenthood. Patricia says that, 'Fatherhood before the age of 16 should be a matter for the police. The parents of teenagers involved should be charged with neglect for allowing them to sleep together under their roof. This is child abuse. After 16, fathers who want to help bring their children up should be given one piece of advice: Get a job.' With her talk of responsibility and purpose many British teens may start getting the right idea.

Britain currently has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world with 40.4 conceptions for each 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17.

The U.S. rate is highest, with 44 births registered for each 1,000 women aged 15 to 19.

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