21:36  |  10 December 11
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Chamber of Debate

FAMILY - never-married single parents, age of consent, family breakdown


We all know that there is widespread flouting of the law relating to the age of consent. Many parents, even middle class ones who consider themselves respectable, responsible and caring, allow their children to have underaged sex and prefer to turn a blind eye, rather than confront them, “because they are going to do it anyway. As long as they practice safe sex and don’t get pregnant, that is the best we can hope for.”


Because failures of contraception occur most often amongst inexperienced users, in this case those who have just become sexually active. It leads to teenage pregnancy, single motherhood and, inevitably, educational under-achievement. It also encourages promiscuity which leads to family breakdown with its attendant societal costs.


Family breakdown causes poverty, promiscuity, crime, welfare-dependency, educational under-achievement and the intellectual and material impoverishment of what was once a great nation.

It has led to Britain’s addiction to a cheaper foreign labour force, who are universally acknowledged by British employers to be better than home-grown employees. This works against the interests of those who are born and educated here but who are inadequately schooled, illiterate, innumerate, illegitimate, who are binge-drinking, drug-addicted, promiscuous and lead a life of welfare dependency that those in work and paying taxes are expected to sponsor ad nauseam.

This also works in the interests of parties like the BNP and the NF the longer this problem is not dealt with honestly, decisively and effectively.

It is of course the Nanny State which is to blame, but it is the sacred cow that most Britons are unable to contemplate slaying. After so many generations of worship, such a suggestion tends to be received with the same degree of enthusiasm as you would expect from filial children invited to contemplate matricide.


Family breakdown is a vicious circle that gets bigger with each unwanted pregnancy and with each generation of singly-parented children. Soon there will be more who are illegitimate than legitimate and that will be when the lunatics will have taken over the asylum, when this country will be even more vulnerable to the kind of foreign domination being complained of by the BNP and the NF.


Obviously, it would be impractical to prosecute every teenager who has sex while below the age of consent, but it would NOT be impractical to

(a) deprive a single mother of child benefit if she cannot produce a marriage certificate
(b) fine the single mother for producing an illegitimate baby, say £1000, if she does not name the father
(c) require her parent(s) to pay this sum if she cannot or will not
(d) fine the father of an illegitimate child a sum of money, say £1000
(e) require the parent(s) of that father to pay this sum if he cannot pay it himself
(f) require that the mother give up the child for adoption before more lives are ruined

In one fell swoop would the problem be solved by these measures, which will have the effect of encouraging greater parental interest in controlling their offspring, though it is doubtful that Mr Justice Coleridge will be recommending these measures to the government in his speech on family breakdown today (4 April 2008) in Brighton when he addresses RESOLUTION (formerly the Solicitors’ Family Law Association).

It is reported that he will mention the “cancerous increase” in family breakdowns and say that the collapse is at a scale and severity that would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago.

"What is certain is that almost all of society's social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of the family life," he will say.

However, Mr Justice Coleridge, who heads family courts in the south west of England, will not criticise single parents directly. [Why on earth not? Is he afraid of being considered uncompassionate and judgemental (even though he is a judge)? Probably. 1P4A has no such qualms!]

"I am not saying every broken family produces dysfunctional children but I am saying that almost every dysfunctional child is the product of a broken family. "And what is government doing to recognise and face up to the emerging situation? The answer is: very little and nothing like enough.

"It is fiddling whilst Rome burns."

1Party4All has the solutions and the courage to propose them at the risk of seeming uncompassionate and, God forbid, “judgemental” ...
Vote: Should the measures proposed in (a) to (f) be adopted to purge the scourge of family breakdown?

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Members Comments

Andromeda 8-Apr-2008 12:40
Is anyone really going to say that easy divorce, the fact that secondary school children have sex education classes that don’t tell them not to do it tends to encourage promiscuity? which leads to divorce? which leads to singly-parented children? Which leads to more single parented children? Are our prisons stuffed full of those who were singly parented without fathers? or do they tend to come from whole middle class families who value education? Is there any doubt that dividing the family home and living separately is more expensive than living together? Is anyone denying that divorce impoverishes both parties to the ex-marriage, however wealthy they are, even Paul McCartney?

Of course singly parented children are STATISTICALLY MORE LIKELY to be emotionally, intellectually and materially deprived! I cannot quite see why Recyclotron is asking me to prove again that the earth is round and the earth moves round the sun.

Is a divorce not going to make a child insecure or make it likely for a child to have a lower opinion of either one or both of its parents?

Single parenting is not ideal (but, oh, we must not be judgemental, must we?)

Not ALL singly parented children end up as drunkards, drug addicts, criminals, prostitutes and single parents, but the statistics point to an INCREASED probability, do they not? I do not require certainty in EVERY CASE, merely an increased probability of an unwelcome consequence for the case for action to be clear and urgent when the solution is so obvious!

Even the government is not pretending that more singly parented children will be better for society. What they are wringing their hands over is what to do about it. Recyclotron seems to be denying that there is even a problem!
Recyclotron 8-Apr-2008 11:20
If we are not prepared to accept medicines that haven’t been tested, and for whose effect we have no explanation, then why are we prepared to accept legislation which is solely based upon politician’s opinions, or the opinions of an enthusiastic, but uninformed public? For example the way we have legislated to eliminate drug use or prostitution over the past couple of centuries has clearly failed. This is often because we are not prepared to listen to the evidence when it is inconsistent with our moral position.

Politicians are always open to accepting the credit for “good” societal changes which occur. For example rises and falls in criminal convictions owe more to demographic changes that political action (The book “Freakonomics” covers this) yet political parties regularly take the credit for falls in recorded crime (but never the rises).

I would like Andromeda to look at a number of her bold statements;

“As it stands, the law is destroying family life, encouraging promiscuity and single parenting.”

The terms “family life”, “promiscuity” and “single parenting” are open to a variety of interpretations and so it would be difficult to identify a direct link between legislation and these characteristics of modern life. Something like “the average age of mothers at first birth” is specific and measurable, and we might be able to identify a link between some legislation (I’m not sure which) and this parameter, but it is difficult to argue on such intangibles.

“Children of married couples tend to do better than those brought up by single parents.” Let us assume that prima fascia evidence for this exists. Another argument might say that children from more affluent families do better, and that couples are more affluent than single parents. Therefore it might not be the lone parent that disadvantages the child, but the lack of money that the parent has.

“No-fault divorce encourages guilt-free, blame-free divorces, which increases the number of singly-parented children and the statistical likelihood of having more promiscuity, both in the newly single parent and the child observing the behaviour of its newly single parent.” To say that this leads the child to become promiscuous is rather a leap of faith. Conversely the child may come to value the stability of a married relationship and wish it on their own children. I do not know which of these two arguments is the most valid.

You raise many interesting points, but it would add greatly to the debate if you could add an evidential foundation to your opinions as without evidence they remain opinions. And there is plenty of evidence, I would draw your attention to the report by NICE at http://www.nice.org.uk/niceMedia/documents/teenpreg_evidence_overview.pdf
To the SCIE report at
To the government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit at
And to the NHS’s review of evidence on teenage pregnancy at
Andromeda 8-Apr-2008 9:34
Recyclotron's comment about Mill and the protection of minorities is noted.

However, who is Recyclotron seeking to protect here? It seems he is seeking to protect the "right" to be promiscuous without condemnation, to be a single parent with the right to be supported by the state, to be a burden on society!

I, on the other hand, am putting forward proposals that would prevent family breakup and discourage the increase of singly-parented under-achieving and criminally inclined children.

Which is the more important goal?

Do I even have to ask?!
Recyclotron 7-Apr-2008 19:23
Andromeda suggests that “the law is an infinitely versatile instrument of government, capable of being stick and carrot and certainly capable of being either a protector or destroyer of morality, decent values, ethical behaviour, call it what you will.”

We can each have a different opinion of what the purpose of law is. For those with a political education I would identify myself with the philosophy of John Stuart Mill. For Sun readers I am a lily livered liberal. I have been known to read the Guardian. I say this because whilst we each have different opinions, and we should respect those differences, we must debate the validity of those views in order to understand them.

For law to be “an instrument of government ….a protector of morality” it becomes an instrument for the majority to dictate to the minority how to live their lives. Such laws could prohibit homosexuality, Judaism and even left-handedness. My position is that there is no justification for a law that does not protect the individual against harm, and I do not regard protecting the majority from being offended by others beliefs or behaviours within this definition. I would suggest that Sharia Law is an example of a law that prohibits “immoral” acts. I place the term immoral in quotes as morals are a moveable feast if one looks across cultures and times in history. There are many examples of morality changing. The one I like most was the Opium Wars between Britain and China, which many young people have never heard of and are amazed to find that our country once went to war for the right to sell heroin to the people of a foreign country. Imagine Columbia doing the same today!

Mill’s argument was that it was in the best interest of a society to protect its minorities as it was those minorities which initiated the changes to society that made them stronger and to give them the flexibility to face new challenges. An ossified society is one that becomes extinct. In recent times the Soviet Union was the most spectacular example of a society that collapsed through a failure to adapt. It is also why China is struggling to change from a one party communist society to something different.

I would suggest that Mill was right, that we should tolerate that which we disagree with, if it does not harm us (and what constitute “harm” has exercised philosophers down the years). And so law, IMHO should be an instrument of last resort to protect every individual, equally, from harm.
Anselm 7-Apr-2008 18:39
Andromeda is absolutely right.

If the parents were themselves promiscuous, and go through a divorce (or divorces) themselves, the child is likely to see this, or the parents will be less likely to

(a) Know what to say to their children to disencourage it
(b) Be less likely to disencourage it anyway.

You are correct about the sex education, it is pretty much a joke. That needs a definite revamp.

It is also true that single parents (+ their children) are more likely to live in poverty/be brought up badly - just look at Vicky Pollard for a simple example!

The BNP is an utter joke, and need to stop the blame game and come up with some (working) way that will hopefully reduce or prevent this.
Andromeda 7-Apr-2008 8:18
I must disagree with Recyclotron. The law is an infinitely versatile instrument of government, capable of being stick and carrot and certainly capable of being either a protector or destroyer of morality, decent values, ethical behaviour, call it what you will.

As it stands, the law is destroying family life, encouraging promiscuity and single parenting. As it could be, as proposed in (a) to (f), it would protect British families of all races, religions and classes.

Children of married couples tend to do better than those brought up by single parents.

No-fault divorce encourages guilt-free, blame-free divorces, which increases the number of singly-parented children and the statistical likelihood of having more promiscuity, both in the newly single parent and the child observing the behaviour of its newly single parent.

The state, which does not punish the widespread flouting of the age of consent condones and accepts the widespread flouting of the age of consent.


The widespread flouting of the age of consent increases the likelihood of unplanned teenage pregnancy. Sex education in secondary schools does not include reasons not to "do it" only how to do it and how not to get pregnant while doing it.


Unplanned teenage pregnancy leads to single parents who tend to have children born in poverty and, let us face it, lower standards of behaviour and educational achievement. The fact that the word "bastard" is generally used to describe an unpleasant man points to these inescapable origins.


This in turn leads to the national malaise, eg employees whose work ethic is so poor that a cheap labour force has to be imported, leading to increased competition for living space, resources, jobs and welfare benefits between locals and foreign workers that the BNP and the NF are so bitterly complaining about.

Of course the foreigners do better - they believe in family values and stay together!

Not acknowledging that family breakdown - encouraged by British culture and British laws - lead directly to the state of affairs that the BNP are complaining about. However, they prefer to blame Muslims and foreigners - anyone and anything but their own failure to keep their own famlies together. What is sadder still is that they still do not see that the promiscuity encouraged by "British" attitudes causes family breakup, and continue to want more socialism and more welfare to bail them out when their families break up. They continue to want more socialism, but just for their "own kind"!

The government are of course not going to deal with the problem at its roots, because that would mean doing as I propose, which, as we all know would be about as popular as proposing the dismantling of the welfare state.

This, however, is what in fact needs to be done to get the country back into some semblance of common sense government. The horror with which these apparently extreme-sounding proposals are being received indicates how unlikely Britons are capable of reversing their increasingly rapid descent into poverty, disorder and, eventually, foreign domination.

However, it does no harm, in my opinion, to suggest the right solutions even if it will be mostly ignored and condemned as being "mad" and "judgmental".

Recyclotron 6-Apr-2008 17:13
The purpose of law is to protect the rights of individuals, not to force individuals to behave in a way approved of by the majority. The age of consent is there to protect the young from exploitation. Therefore legislation should penalise their exploiter and not the young person, who has effectively been raped, as the law does not recognise that the youth is not sufficiently mature to consent to the act.

If both participants are below the age of consent, then adults need to step in to protect both of them from their actions. They need to be educated and protected, not vilified or bullied.

Fining those involved, i.e. children, who would not normally be expected to have this kind of money, would be pointless. It could even trigger a move to a life of crime. This is something best left to social services, teachers and parents, who need to work together to rescue children at risk from further harm.
Anselm 5-Apr-2008 18:17
Unfortunately the Labour administration seems to not care about what happens with teenagers. As a teen myself, I witness first-hand this terrible destruction of the family; other pupils in school seem to care little for parents and just want more freedom; sex is one of those things that many people assume you've 'done' by 15, and this is in a faith school.

We have an age of consent, yet the government is still willing to, at the taxpayer's expense, provide the morning-after pill without the parents' consent or knowledge. That should be replaced by the person first of all paying themself for the pill (as it is a personal choice) and the parents should be notified. Parents need to take more responsibility in educating their children about morals and whatnot.

Unfortunately the current labour government does not care about families. Why not, instead of increasing the tax from 20% to 40% at £35k (or whatever it is) make a combined allowance of £70k before the tax increases for married couples? This would encourage functional families.

The government should encourage family life for starters, and discourage sex during teen years - not just encourage it by teaching about contraception and providing it for free. Points (a) to (f) above would certainly be good possibilities to combat this, and points (c) and (e) are good also as they incorporate the family - the family is more likely to tell their son/daughter to not have sex in the first place, and if not that, to certainly discourage it.

The attitude among teens that they should have sex as young as possible and the peer pressure resulting from that should also be removed as much as possible. Teens must also accept religious beliefs and similar instead of just pressuring and 'laughing at' those who don't comply with their rebellion.
All comments are subject to approval.

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