By HODA FARHANGHI, ABC News London
“[Alfie] should be able to live his life and return to school."
With those words, High Court Judge Mrs Justice Baron imposed a media ban on the story of 13-year-old dad Alfie Patten, expressing "serious concern about the level of media interest."
The Sun was the first newspaper that published Alfie’s story a week ago and, in its latest story, it shows the 13-year-old in a personalized sweater with the text, “Alfie Patten, I’m the daddy, and if I’m not, f--- you all, I’ll still be there.” The newspaper says it is not a publicity stunt but “a news story.”
The Alfie Patten story has become the most popular story in the history of The Sun’s Web site. More than 1 million people watched the video of Alfie and his girlfriend Chantelle Steadman, 15, cradling their newborn daughter Maisie.
The media frenzy became even worse after allegations that Alfie’s parents had sold his story to tabloid newspapers and claims from two other teenage boys that they were the father of little Maisie Patten.
According to the Press Complaints Commission’s editors’ code of practice, British newspapers are not allowed to pay minors or their parents for material about their children, unless it is in the child’s interest. The Press Complaints Commission is investigating whether The Sun breached that rule.
The Sun says it will cooperate with the PCC, adding that, “we think that the story is in the public interest. The Sun will not publish more stories about Alfie now that there is a media ban.”
But Alfie and Chantelle’s story is just one of many in Britain as the country’s teenage pregnancy rate is the highest in Western Europe. Jules Hillier, the spokesman for Brook, a national sexual health advice and services provider, says that “sex education is very important. We should start talking to our children and educate them as soon as they start asking questions, even before they go to primary school.”
Sex education is not provided in all British schools but it will become compulsory in 2011. Hillier says “it will make a big difference in preventing teenage pregnancies. We should tell children more about friendship and relationships, now all they learn is the biology of it.”
Little Alfie may take a DNA test to determine whether he is the father of baby Maisie. In the meantime, there will be no press for the first time in baby Maisie’s life, at least not until the ban is lifted on March 10.
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