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FURORE OVER OUR KIDS HAVING KIDS; Father aged 13 ignites new debate.

A BOY who became a father aged 13 provoked a fierce political debate over the high rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK and the sexualisation of children.

The case of baby-faced Alfie Patten - who, as reported yesterday, was just 12 when his baby was conceived - exemplified the "complete collapse" of parts of society, it was claimed.

Conservative leader David Cameron said it showed a worrying trend of "children having children" that had to be stopped, while Children's Secretary Ed Balls said it was "an awful case".

The furore was sparked after Alfie and 15-year-old Chantelle Steadman brought little Maisie Roxanne into the world at the Eastbourne District General Hospital, East Sussex.

The UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe, but figures show the number of conceptions among under-16s fell by 1,000 in 2006 compared to 10 years earlier.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "It's not being accusative, it's about pointing out the complete collapse in some parts of society of any sense of what's right and wrong."

Mr Cameron said: "Obviously we all hope that these very, very young children will grow up and be good parents, but frankly parenthood isn't something that they should have been thinking about. That's what's gone wrong and we've got to put it right."

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NEW DAD: The Sun's feature today on Alfie Patten, 13, and baby's mum aged 15
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 14, 2009
Words:234
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