He's 13. He scarcely looks 10. And according to a British tabloid, he's a father.
Baby-faced and only 4 feet (1.22 meters) tall, the boy, Alfie, was just 12 when he impregnated Chantelle, now 15, The Sun reported today. Shown in a video posted today on the tabloid's Web site, the diminutive Alfie takes the newborn girl in his arms.
Asked what he would do to support the child financially, Alfie asks in a small, high-pitched voice, "What's financially?"
The girl was taking birth control pills but missed one, the newspaper reported. Friends and relatives left the family home near Eastbourne, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of London, today without speaking to reporters gathered outside. The teenagers could not immediately be contacted.
The Sun did not say whether any tests were conducted to prove the boy's paternity. The paper did not offer any immediate comment when asked whether it had paid the family for the story.
Police and child services in Eastbourne, in southeast England, said in a statement that they were "aware of a 14-year-old girl that had become pregnant as the result of a relationship with a 12-year-old boy," adding that they were offering support to both young people.
Alfie's front page picture has sparked renewed debate about teen pregnancy in Britain. The country has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe, and government figures show that about 39,000 girls under age 18 became pregnant in 2006. More than 7,000 of those girls were younger than 16.
"I don't know the individual details of the case, but of course I think all of us would want to avoid teenage pregnancies," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today.
Britain had 27 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 between 2000 and 2005, according to a report published by Population Action International. Comparable figures are 10 per 1,000 for Spain, 8 in 1,000 for France, and 5 in 1,000 for The Netherlands.
Britain's teen pregnancy rate, however, is still far below that of the United States, which registers 44 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 and are more line with English-speaking countries such as Australia and New Zealand, which respectively have 17 and 27 births per 1,000 women between 15 and 19, according to the report.
But the country's reputation as Europe's teen pregnancy capital has been an embarrassment to politicians.
In 1999 then-Prime Minister Tony Blair described Britain's record on pregnancies as shameful and vowed to turn it around.
"Put simply, you are still a child when you are 14 and, in a civilized society, children should not be having children," he said at the time. The government has since poured millions of pounds (dollars) into advertising and educational campaigns.
Brook, a U.K. group that provides sexual health advice to people under 25, said teen pregnancies had fallen by about 12 percent since 1998, but more had to be done.
"It can be easy to concentrate on young women but young men need as much support and information," Brook's chief executive, Simon Blake, said.
In a move last year to tackle the high teen pregnancy rate, British education officials announced they would start introducing sex education earlier in English schools. Beginning next year, children as in grades as low as kindergarten will be given basic sex education.
Tony Kerridge, of the sexual health group Marie Stopes International, praised the move, but local lawmaker Nigel Waterson said the pregnancy raised "huge questions" about whether British children were being educated about sex -- at the expense of learning about healthy relationships.
Chantelle and Alfie have reportedly pledged to raise the child as best they can.
"We know we made a mistake but I wouldn't change it now," Chantelle was quoted by The Sun as saying.
Alfie's father, Dennis -- who reportedly has nine children -- said his son told him it was the first time he had sex. He was reportedly allowed to sleep over at the girl's house.
"It hasn't really dawned on him," Patten, 45, was quoted as saying in the paper.
"I will talk to him again and it will be the birds and bees talk," he said. "Some may say it's too late but he needs to understand so there is not another baby."
Britain's youngest-known father was said to be a 12-year-old boy in a suburb north of London who impregnated a young neighbor in 1998.