Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Father at 14 'changed my future'

Social workers are concerned about a boy in Eastbourne who has become a father at 13.

While teenage pregnancy rates in the UK are falling, 7,000 girls under 16 still fall pregnant every year. BBC Radio 5 Live spoke to some listeners who have gone through it.

MUM AT 13

Leonie Bolton, 21, became pregnant at 13, when her boyfriend was 15.

teen
Teenage pregnancies have decreased slowly over last eight years

"I knew straight away that I was [pregnant], but I buried my head in the sand and convinced myself I wasn't, even as I got bigger," she said.

"That's why I didn't tell my parents until I was seven months.

"They weren't overly pleased - but they were 100% supportive. They've been fantastic. They had assumed I was carrying extra teenage puppy fat."

The young couple weren't using contraception because, she says, she was "young and naive" and didn't think about it.

FROM BBC RADIO 5 LIVE

"My mum gave up full time work so I could go back to school and do GCSEs. I couldn't have done it without my mum.

"It's hard psychologically, emotionally and physically.

"There's not a lot of help out there. If you're under the age of 16, you can't claim child benefit for your child, so my mum had to claim that. I don't think the government should make it easier, but they need to understand that these things do happen.

"In no way do I condone children to go out and have children, but if it happens it needs to be dealt with.

"No-one is ever ready to have a child. It's how you deal with it and what you do with the rest of your life after that matters."

Leonie's daughter now eight and the father is no longer involved.

DAD AT 14

Dave, 41, from Manchester became a dad at 14 in 1983 - and had another baby two years later.

FROM BBC RADIO 5 LIVE

"We kept it quiet for seven months," he said. "We went through hell. We knew what had happened when her periods stopped and we didn't want her parents to force her into an abortion.

"It was a shock. At 15, I was changing fuses, painting - and changing babies' nappies - when I could see my friends doing other things. We didn't get any help at the time.

"I had to leave school without any exams, so I didn't get any proper education."

Dave couldn't handle being such a young father and, apart from paying maintenance, didn't have anything to do with his children for 19 years.

He says it completely changed the course of his life, but he has no regrets.



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