Opinion

Rewarding Moral Decay

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13-year-old Alfie PatternThe extent to which such actions harm all parties involved stems from the lack of family values, or to set the bar lower, even families to start off with. The industrialized world is facing a growing concentration, almost ghetto-like in form, of broken families and kids losing their childhoods and becoming adults as a result of these actions without any concrete understanding of the repercussions.13-year-old Alfie PatternThirteen-year-old Alfie looks more like eight, and he looks like he’s cuddling his baby sister rather than his daughter Masie. International headlines have blasted the story of Alfie Pattern and his 15-year-old girlfriend, who are now, frighteningly enough, parents. It comes as a relatively mundane news affair; after all, Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe and second only to the United States in comparison to the Western world. The case is a mere mirror of the moral decay that’s prevalent throughout these parts of the world.

Maisie Roxanne is statistically inclined to imitate her mother, subsequently becoming pregnant in her teens and repeating the depressing cycle of moral deprivation. As much as we are rooting for this child to succeed and defy the odds, the fate that most likely awaits her is much more likely to be of low achievement at school, followed by unemployment, criminal delinquency, and dependency on state benefits. The extent to which such actions harm all parties involved stems from the lack of family values, or to set the bar lower, even families to start off with. The industrialized world is facing a growing concentration, almost ghetto-like in form, of broken families and kids losing their childhoods and becoming adults as a result of these actions without any concrete understanding of the repercussions.

It would seem logical that historically, parents who are themselves children have never been a recipe for a successful life. Until the past few decades, having a child as an unmarried teenager spelled a clear disaster for girls. Both she and the child would lack the social and financial support that is present today in Britain and the United States. This is a plausible reason as to why there were so few teenage mothers between the 1700s and the second half of the 20th century. Teenage birth rates were low, despite the fact that the only effective contraception available was abstinence, and abortion was almost impossible.

Recent media reports have suggested that 13-year-old Alfie may not be the father, but does that make the issue any less alarming? Why does society swallow the fact the child’s mother became pregnant at the age of 14? We have become so used to teenage mothers that no alarms are being sounded about her age. It’s an almost systematic cycle that many teenage mothers cannot break free from. Broken homes create the next generation’s broke homes, and with the direction our society is heading in, this problem will only get worse.

Many of these teenage parents come from homes where they never see a father figure, and it affects them and their concept of what a relationship actually is. Given the many children by different parents they will have seen all around them (including their siblings), Alfie and Chantelle aren’t expected to break the mold. The high level of sexualization is often due to the fact that young girls perceive the only way of having a relationship with a boy is by offering sex, because this is all they have ever seen from their mothers. Often times, levels of abuse from men in their lives towards their mothers play a major role in their own relationships later on. They lack the understanding that compassionate care and love from a man can be possible for them without necessarily having to be bargained with over sex.

Yet how do we prevent such “families”, or the antagonists of the term? First and foremost, we must stop rewarding children for irresponsible behavior. Some will argue in favor of sex education, but studies have shown that such programs may actually encourage students to have sex. Instead of showering unwed teenage mothers with council flats, monthly allowances, and so on, we must aim to wean people off this destructive lifestyle. The current system provides incentives, where there must be disincentives. Rather than encouraging settled families, the welfare state rewards the dysfunctional. The best bet would be to taken on the example of several Scandinavian countries, primarily the Netherlands. It holds one of the lowest rates of teenage pregnancy rates in the world, where sex education and social policies comes with messages of abstinence and responsibility.

Sex education alone cannot save a society that continues to fall apart both socially and morally. Children are punished for speaking about God, and any form of religion is looked down upon in classrooms and schools, yet the social decay is allowed to continue. Parental control has been replaced by video games, educational responsibilities have been removed in favor of learning from television, and family values have been debased by latch-key living and casual arrangements. Unless change is implemented on a wide scale, the fear is that 13-year-old parents will no longer have tongues wagging.

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