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This understatement of the day is given to us by Alfie Patten, the thirteen-year-old British boy who just became a father:

Alfie Patten, 13, and his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman, 15, decided to keep Maisie who was conceived after one night of unprotected sex.

Alfie, who is just 4ft tall, hasn’t yet hit puberty and was 12 when the baby was conceived, said: “When my mum found out, I thought I was going to get in trouble. We wanted to have the baby but were worried about how people would react . . . .

“We didn’t think we would need help from our parents. You don’t really think about that when you find out you are pregnant. You just think your parents will kill you.”

The Times of London article repeatedly emphasizes two points. First, that these children were, understandably, terrified that the pregnancy would be discovered by their parents. Second, that the children had received no sex education and that this ignorance led to unprotected sex and a child. They quote Alfie’s father, for example, saying, “When I spoke to him he started crying. He said it was the first time he’d had sex, that he didn’t know what he was doing and of the complications that could come.”

Apparently, the real tragedy here is ignorance. If someone had only gotten to these kids sooner and told them how to use contraception, none of this would have happened. This sentiment is, unfortunately, is becoming more and more prevalent. Take, for example, this recent article from the Boston Globe :

In eighth grade, Luke Detwiler, of Natick, and his friends saw graphic pictures of people having sex. The photos contained “close-ups of various body parts and sex acts,” remembers Detwiler, now 16. But the kids weren’t furtively flipping through a nudie magazine swiped from somebody’s dad. They weren’t sneaking onto pornographic websites after school. They were in church on a Sunday morning, and their parents had signed them up for the experience . . . .

The photos were a small piece of a yearlong sexuality education program called Our Whole Lives, or OWL. A joint effort by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, OWL aims to help teens understand sexuality . . . .

With US sex education heading into its second century, some educators are suggesting that sex ed can, and should, be about more than just all the things that can go wrong, that adults need to do more than robotically recite statistics about condom failure or the merits of abstinence. This new approach, almost too small to be called a movement, exists largely outside the public schools, but it’s a new twist in a debate that often gets bogged down in finger-pointing and name-calling. The “sex is good” mentality involves talking frankly to teens about sexual pleasure and about when and how to achieve it safely. It means focusing less on whether kids have had vaginal intercourse, and acknowledging that teens (like adults) will engage in a variety of sexual experiences. It’s an approach that might make some grown-ups uncomfortable, but it’s exactly what sex ed needs if it’s ever going to grow up.

How perverse. I’d be hard-pressed to find a Christian who would deny that “sex is good,” but there are also objectively wicked ways of pursuing good things. Taken out of the context of the marital bond, sex loses its goodness, in a way that stories like that of Alfie Patten all too clearly show.

Instead of sexualizing our children earlier and earlier in a wrong-headed attempt to protect them from themselves, shouldn’t we let children flourish as children and protect them from those things that harm their flourishing?



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