Finding scapegoats won't solve anything
PUBLISHED: 16:47 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:59 11 May 2010
WHEN I was 13, the important things in my life included Cambridge United winning promotion, getting hold of the latest games for my Megadrive, and being on the winning side during our lunchtime football marathons at school. Fatherhood didn t really featur
WHEN I was 13, the important things in my life included Cambridge United winning promotion, getting hold of the latest games for my Megadrive, and being on the winning side during our lunchtime football marathons at school.
Fatherhood didn't really feature on my radar as a high priority. I can't imagine it was a particular ambition of Alfie Patten either, but this week the teenager's baby-face has been splashed all over the national press with the story that he had become a proud parent to baby Maisie, who was conceived when the youngster was just 12.
The story is sad on so many levels, and I find the almost-ghoulish way in which the media has pounced on it to be more than a little distasteful - is the story being afforded so much coverage because it is an issue that is in the public interest, or because it satisfies the nation's appetite for scandal?
And while I realise I am exacerbating that particular problem by penning a few more column inches on it, there are a couple of points I'd like to make.
Firstly, I am surprised that this has generated so much shock and outrage. While young teenagers becoming pregnant used to be the kind of story that you'd hear about only in soaps like Coronation Street, we now live in the country with the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.
Is it any wonder that occasionally very young teenagers are becoming parents? This isn't the first time it has happened and I'm sure it won't be the last.
Secondly, there has been much finger- pointing going on in the last few days, with blame being laid variously at the feet of the government/schools/the parents/the kids themselves.
In my mind it's pointless trying to find one specific group to apportion blame to when it has to be a combination of factors that have created this situation.
We have to look at our society as a whole, and at the overriding reasons why a generation of children feel it is acceptable to have sex when they do not have the maturity to handle the consequences.
I'm not entirely sure what the solution is, but finding a convenient scapegoat is unlikely to make the problem go away.
Am I the only one who fails to see the point of Twitter?
For those not in the know, Twitter is a website where you post updates, or "Tweets", about what you're up to during the day.
Other people can then link to your page and follow your every move, and the site's popularity is growing, thanks to the patronage of high-profile names such as Stephen Fry.
To me this seems a totally bizarre concept.
Why on earth would anyone want to know that Joe Bloggs is eating burger and chips, or shopping for new wallpaper, or whatever.
And furthermore, why would you want to publish such inanity about yourself for the world to see?
It seems to me this is part of a growing trend for making every detail of your life available in the public domain, started by sites like Facebook and Bebo and now being extended by Twitter.
While this might appeal to some people, it certainly doesn't do it for me.