TCS Daily


'Frankly, I Blame the Schools'

By Val MacQueen - June 9, 2005 12:00 AM

Julie Atkins' three daughters fell pregnant within a few short months of one another. Natasha recently gave birth to a girl, just around her 16th birthday. Her sister Jade, 14, also gave birth to a girl.

However, the first of the three sisters to deliver a baby was 12-year old Gemma, who gave birth to a boy. She named him T-Jay, which presumably means something in 12-year-old circles, and was chosen, of necessity, without consultation with the 14-year old father, who has made himself scarce.

Nor does 14-year old Jade seem to have any great expectations of seeing the father of her baby any time soon either, noting off-handedly that she became pregnant as a result of "a one-night stand".

Their twice-divorced mother, who lives with her daughters and their babies in a free three-bedroom council house told the papers, "Frankly, I blame the schools."

When the neighbors, reading this, lost no time in calling the papers to report that Mrs. Atkins had been allowing her then-11-year old daughter to have sex with her 13 year old boy friend in the family home, Mrs. Atkins widened her sphere of culpability for her daughters' pregnancies to include "the government."

Currently, including the council-provided house, the Atkins family is estimated to be costing British taxpayers around £650 -- $1,178 -- a week, or around $60,000 a year. Mrs. Atkins, though, has expressed herself dissatisfied with current arrangements, complaining to the papers that now her three daughters have babies, she is finding her three-bedroom house "cramped", and is requesting larger accommodation from the local council.

In stark contrast to many British parents, Mrs. Atkins feels there isn't enough sex education in the schools and thinks what there is is of poor quality. "Girls are becoming pregnant earlier and earlier," she complains, as though this was a natural disaster it was impossible to avoid. She makes no connection between the fact that, 20 years earlier, there was less emphasis on sex education at a very early age in schools and infinitely fewer teenage -- and nowadays, child -- pregnancies. She herself had her first child at a respectable 20.

Regardless of what Mrs. Atkins inexplicably sees as a lack of information about sex for teenagers, 16-year-old Natasha appears to have been a bit of a slow learner, as by the time she had her baby, she had spent her 14th and 15th years becoming a veteran of two miscarriages and an abortion.

Mrs. Atkins is reported by the BBC as saying, "If I could turn back the clock, I would prefer them not to have children. Their education is so important." Given her accommodation of her 11-year-old's sexual activity under her roof, this pensée leaves the reader reeling.

Where are the three babies' fathers, and their families, in all this? Jade's "one-night stand" appears to have no compelling interest in his daughter Lita as he hasn't been round to have a look. Twelve-year-old Gemma expresses surprise and hurt that her 14-year-old inamorata has shown an identical lack of interest in the well-being of either her or his child. "He was my first love," she says. But she has heard that he now has another girlfriend and, in the unlovely vernacular of her milieu declares herself "gutted".

Sixteen-year-old Natasha is marginally luckier. The father of her child is a 38-year-old "Asian" (British media code for Pakistani), who is a professional gambler with whom this teenage girl has been in a "long term relationship". Although he may have thrown the dice once too often with regard to Natasha, he has at least dropped by a few times to see his daughter. However, despite being a gambler, he seems curiously risk averse, living as he does, at home with his mother and father, to whom he has not mentioned his daughter.

I might note here that not one of the three males involved has been charged with the rape of a child.

Thus, today's degraded society in Britain, under a socialist government which has intentionally pulled up the underpinnings of marriage and a home and a family with two married parents living in it, lumbers on in all its unloveliness.

The British National Health hospitals, where most British mothers give birth, now instructs its doctors and nurses to enquire about the mother's "partner" rather than her husband. One can't be judgmental, after all, and, with 49 percent of British births now being outside marriage, they're not too far off. (This is in the context of a new, intrusive Labour government directive which requires OB-GYN staff to ask the mother if her "partner" has ever engaged in physical abuse. This impertinence alone is a towering argument against socialized medicine.)

Meanwhile, married couples with children no longer get preferential tax treatment, as Tony Blair's government has declared that no one form of "family" should have a tax advantage over another. Anything anyone chooses, however temporarily, to regard as a "family" is as good as any other. Given that the family is the basic unit of human society all over the world, this typical Labour perversity is not unintentional. Tony Blair gave a speech a few years back, in which he vowed to "destroy the forces of conservatism" -- meaning everything that binds society together -- and he has laid about him with a wrecking ball ever since. Middle-class British parents, meanwhile, are mortgaging their futures to keep their children out of state schools, or to buy homes in areas where the local state school has a civilized reputation.

Blair's old confrere, Roy Hattersley, a creepy socialist ex-MP, lost no time in dashing off an article for The Guardian, in which he castigated the opprobrium and japery being heaped upon the Atkins household. "Why," he spluttered in outrage, "they're being treated like characters in a Victorian morality play!" The Victorians were notably continent and family-oriented, so one can understand his repulsion. Regarding the £650 the family takes from the taxpayers, Hattersley opines, "Shocking? It certainly is. But not for the reasons that have excited tabloid passions. Despite their 'rent free, three-bedroom council house', the Williams [the daughters' surname] family is expected to survive on less than £70 ($127) a head. The three babies are being brought up in poverty. And society does not care."

This, of course, is our old friend bait 'n' switch. It is doubtful that even very greedy 4- to 10-month old babies could pack away $127 worth of food each per week, and as they grow older, their government benefits will grow along with them -- in perpetuity, as undoubtedly the three new babies will repeat the family pattern.

Although Mrs. Atkins, currently divorced, has been married twice, she was never married to any of her daughters' fathers, so the three girls are themselves illegitimate, a glittery point lit upon by magpie Aussie author of The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer. Never slow with a pert social comment, she opined in The Daily Telegraph, "Social historians will tell you that illegitimacy is highly hereditary. There have always been women like Yeats's Crazy Jane whose gardens grow 'nothing but babies and washing'. They live in an alternative society that is matrilineal, matrifocal, and matrilocal, a society that the patriarchy has always feared and hated." Ah yes, the patriarchy. Where would Dr. Greer be without it?

And then, as conservative commentator Melanie Phillips points out, there is the long-gone Martin Dodd, father of two of the new mothers, who claims not to have realized his daughters were pregnant until he read it in the papers. Unlike his ex-girlfriend, the girls' mother, Mr. Dodd does not blame the schools or the government. Instead, he blames her. He said, "I think they have only copied what they have seen at home. ... Having one pregnant daughter could be an accident, but three seems irresponsible."

Writes Phillips in The Daily Mail, "Seems? There can be surely not a scintilla of doubt that the whole grisly situation is the very quintessence of irresponsibility. What does not seem to occur to Mr. Dodd is that he is very much part of that irresponsibility himself.

"When he claims his daughters only copied what they saw at home, he never spoke a truer word - but not in the way he seems to think. For what they saw at home was a father who wasn't there."

The abandonment of children to raise themselves continues in a Britain whose social fabric has been picked apart by the fidgety, febrile fingers of Tony Blair and the former Trots and Marxists in his cabinet for the past seven years. As I write, five children, all aged 11 and 12, have been arrested in a Yorkshire village, suspected of the attempted murder of a five-year-old. So far, one of them has actually been charged. It appears the children took the little boy from his home to a remote area and, from the evidence of ligatures around his neck, tried to hang him.

Val MacQueen is a TCS contributing writer. She recently wrote about Honor Killings.

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