Feb 18, 2009

Feeding, nappies... and PlayStation

INNOCENT-eyed Alfie Patten spent his first night acting as a 13-year-old dad and declared: “It was easier than I thought.”
The four-footer — who looks no more than eight — said: “I know I’m young, but I plan to be a good dad.”
As he went on the PlayStation with 15-year-old girlfriend Chantelle Steadman, he added: “I think we’ll be good parents. I’ll have to work extra hard at school.”
Chantelle looked up from 18-rated action game Saints Row II to admit her first night out of hospital since having 7lb 3oz daughter Maisie had been tough and had left her “in a daze”.
But she went on: “Alfie has been really good with her.
“He made the first bottle and then we took it in turns feeding her. He did the first bit with me.
“We didn’t need any help from Mum. I didn’t really get back to sleep. I just lay there in a daze.”
She added: “It feels better to be at home than it does in hospital. I prefer it now I am at home and it is just us and our family.”
It is a typical teenage bolthole — packed tight with cuddly toys including a giant pink teddy. A school gymnastics certificate is proudly displayed on the wall.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse hold hands, surrounded by lovehearts, on the headboard of her bed — where Maisie was conceived when Alfie was just 12 and Chantelle 14.
Their story, revealed by The Sun yesterday, rocked Britain.
Even Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke out, commenting: “I think all of us would want to avoid teenage pregnancies.”
But Chantelle insisted: “When I was pregnant the police and social workers came to interview us and they decided that we would make good parents to Maisie.
“Now we will prove to everyone that we can be, and give her a great future. When Alfie is 16 he can come and live here with me and my family.
“We don’t want to get a flat because we wouldn’t have enough money and I want us both to stay in school to make the best future for Maisie.”
The pair’s parents have been singled out for criticism. Both knew Alfie and Chantelle were “dating” but said they did NOT know the relationship was sexual.
Alfie lives with mum Nicola, 43, in a £395,000 detached home in nearby Hailsham.
A cheeky message in the window reads: “I am horny.”
Neighbour John Holmes, 90, said: “I have always found them very nice, but I know a lot of neighbours have complained about her noisy parties.”
Nicola is separated from Alfie’s dad Dennis, a 45-year-old father of ten, including three stepkids.
He said: “How were we to know what they were up to? To us they were just kids — we’re as shocked as everyone else.”
He said the child couple hid the pregnancy for six weeks and added: “I feel that the doctor that told them she was pregnant should have told an adult.”
Chantelle lives with mum Penny, 38, dad Steve, 43, and her five brothers in a council house.
The family survive on benefits. But Penny explained: “Steve is a fisherman and work is sparse.
“I need to be at home to look after Maisie and my other children so that Chantelle can go to school in April and take her GCSEs. What’s important now is Chantelle’s career and her family and that this mistake does not mean she cannot have the same dreams as any other 15-year-old.”
Penny also dismissed a neighbour’s allegations that she had let THREE other boys stay overnight with Chantelle.
Sean Thomas, 20, claimed: “She is not a young innocent girl who got pregnant with the first boy who came along.”
Furious Penny hit back: “It’s rubbish. Chantelle lost her virginity to Alfie.”
Chantelle gave birth to 7lb 3oz Maisie in Eastbourne Hospital on Monday.
Social Services in Eastbourne admitted to “concerns” over the case but vowed to give “all their support”, including intensive monitoring. Police said they had investigated but had decided to take no further action as it was “not in anyone’s interests” to prosecute.
Julie Vine, 37, whose daughter goes to Cavendish School with Chantelle, said: “I feel sorry for them both. It’s not the school’s fault, it’s a very good school.”
A family friend said Alfie had been thrilled when he learned he was going to be a dad.
Becky Holmes, 19, said: “He is a lovely little boy.
“When he found out his girlfriend was pregnant he paid my baby girl so much attention.
“I was pretty shocked but he’s a natural with babies, even though he still looks like one himself.
“He’s so tiny, he doesn’t even look his age. But he says he’s ready for it.” Another family friend, 28-year-old David Lee, said: “I am really shocked. I didn’t know anything about it. I was only round there two weeks ago playing Xbox games with him.
“He didn’t say anything. You would think being a few days away from being a dad he might have mentioned it.”
Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said: “You look at that young lad being a dad when he is so young — and also the teenage girl — and you think it’s not right, this looks so terrible.
“Our first reaction has got to be to make sure that the young lad, the teenage mum and the baby get all the support they need.
“And it’s also vital that we do everything we can to make sure that these kind of teenage pregnancies don’t happen in the future.”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who runs the Centre for Social Justice think tank, said: “It exemplifies the point we have been making about Broken Britain.
“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.”
Local MP Nigel Waterson said: “This is a very sad story which will have a huge impact on both the parents and the child.
“I’m very pleased that the families are being supportive, but this of course raises huge questions about sex education, and also about the sexualisation of our society.”

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