Oh, dear. The sad story of 13-year-old father Alfie Patten and 15-year-old mother Chantelle Steadman just keeps getting worse- it turns out Patten's sister, Jade, now 19, also had a baby at 13 years old.
Patten, who evidently didn't "didn't know what he was doing and of the complications that could come," according to his father, Dennis, apparently didn't get the education he needed, which is even more infuriating when you consider that his sister also had a child at 13. "I will talk to him again and it will be the birds and the bees talk. Some may say it's too late but he needs to understand so there is not another baby," Dennis insists, but perhaps someone needs to talk to Dennis about the birds and the bees and needing to understand so there's not another baby, no?
Alfie's half-sister, Nicole, blames their father, who left the family two years ago for a 19-year-old girl, for Alfie's behavior: "I blame my dad for Alfie getting Chantelle pregnant. If it wasn't for him, Alfie wouldn't be in this situation. When dad left it tore the family to pieces. Alfie's mum took her eyes off the ball - And Alfie looked for comfort somewhere else to take his mind off things."
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this story is the immediate blame placed on now 15-year-old Chantelle Steadman, whose reputation as a slut and a member of a family who collects state benefits is being splattered all over the papers as a defense of young Alfie Patten: "'She's been with quite a few lads. They are allowed to sleep over at her house, her parents don't mind. She is treated like an adult and can do what she wants," says one neighbor. "She knows lots of boys and never has the same boyfriend for long. Alfie lives with her and seems to think he's the dad but we all think he should have a DNA test," says another.
The pictures of Alfie and Chantelle are shocking and quite sad; yet what is lost amongst the uproar regarding Alfie's prepubescent appearance is the fact that Chantelle is a child too: she was 14 when she became pregnant, and perhaps instead of pointing fingers at Chantelle, calling her a slut, and questioning her attraction to a boy two years her junior, we should be questioning the environment that brought these children together and produced a child in the first place.
"I know I'm young, but I plan to be a good dad," Alfie Patten says, "I think we'll be good parents. I'll have to work extra hard at school."
"When I was pregnant the police and social workers came to interview us and they decided that we would make good parents to Maisie," Steadman agrees, "We will prove to everyone that we can be, and give her a great future."
Whether Steadman and Patten will be able to provide a great future for Maisie is yet to be seen, but one can't help but feel that society, as a whole, has already failed them as children. Let's hope that instead of turning their lives into a tabloid freakshow, we can somehow give them the education, support, and opportunities they missed out on as children to provide them, and their daughter, with a much brighter future.