National Post

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Wednesday, September 08, 1999

School taught me how to have sex, says 14-year-old dad-to-be in U.K.
PM blames parents as teen pregnancies soar
Araminta Wordsworth
National Post, with files; The Daily Telegraph

A 14-year-old boy's frank explanation that he got his 12-year-old girlfriend pregnant after learning the mechanics of the sex act in the classroom has prompted high-level concerns in the United Kingdom about the state of the nation's moral health.

The boy, from Sheffield, boasted that he had lost his virginity at age nine and had had intercourse with 10 other girls.

"It is the school's responsibility, showing us videos of men and women naked. After all, we are just children," he said, referring to sex education classes at his school.

"We were told how babies were made, but I was just interested in the sex part," the boy added.

As for birth control, the boy said he knew about condoms but didn't like them.

"We both understood that not using condoms could get you pregnant, but we carried on," he explained.

The U.K. has Europe's highest rate of teenage pregnancies, many of them involving underage girls, and the Sheffield case is not the first of its kind. Two weeks ago, another 12-year-old girl gave birth to a baby boy in the bathroom of her parents' home in the neighbouring town of Rotherham.

Her mother, 26, who produced her fifth child the previous week, is now the country's youngest grandmother, having had her first baby at 14.

Rotherham has one of Britain's highest incidences of teenage pregnancy, local health authorities say. In some parts of the town, one in six pregnancies involves girls younger than 19.

All this helps give Britain an unenviable distinction -- that of the country in Europe with the most sexually active teenagers.

Last year, 87% of the babies born to British 15- to 19-year-olds were illegitimate, concluded a survey carried out by International Planned Parenthood. This compares with 62% in the United States and only 10% in Japan.

Tony Blair, the prime minister, told The Observer newspaper last weekend that "you've got to make youngsters aware of the undesirability of having sex at the age of 12 ... Parents have got to take responsibility for their children."

The girl at the centre of the latest revelations lives with her three sisters and her mother, who is separated from their unemployed father. Home is a rundown house owned by the local council.

The boy lives about 200 metres away, and said he climbed drainpipes to get into the girl's house to have sex with her.

Her mother said her daughter had continued to see the boy every day despite her objections. The mother had taken her to their family doctor, but the girl refused to take the contraceptive pill and only grudgingly accepted condoms.

The mother added she believed that her child had deliberately tried to get pregnant. She told her mother: "I want a baby of my own. I want somebody to love."

She has since refused her mother's pleas to have an abortion, saying her boyfriend has threatened never to speak to her again if she ended the pregnancy.

The mother has reported the pregnancy to South Yorkshire police, who are investigating whether a crime of statutory rape has been committed -- legally, a girl younger than 13 cannot give consent to sexual intercourse.

The boy's 33-year-old mother said she was disgusted by her son's claims of promiscuity.

"This is a nightmare. But what can I do if they won't keep apart? I'm fighting a losing battle."

For his part, the expectant father said: "I look back on things now and still don't really know how it could happen.

"But I will be there for the birth if she wants me to be. I am really looking forward to seeing the baby born.

"I love being around kids and I reckon I'll be a good dad."

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