`I didn't think you could get pregnant the first time you had sex'

David Walker analyses a sudden outbreak of responsibility among the young on both sides of the Atlantic
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The Independent Online
KASEY CAMERON, 16, from inlaton Mill, Tyne and Wear, is studying part-time for an accounts qualification at Gateshead College and works at a solicitor's office.

"I want to finish my course to get my qualifications. If I got pregnant I wouldn't be able to do that.

"My boyfriend has a two-year-old boy and that makes me think about it more. He's 24 and the mother is 18 now, but she was 17 when she got pregnant.

"I think the most important thing is having a choice. I do use contraception. I don't want a baby now and to be honest I don't really think about when I'm going to have one. If I got pregnant now I would not keep the baby, I don't think it's fair being so young.

"There were about four girls in my school who had kids in the sixth form. I don't think any of them wanted a baby, it just happened. But I think they're still quite positive about it, although they weren't exactly ecstatic. They just got on with it.

"None of them are married and most of them are by themselves now. When their boyfriends found out they left. Among my friends, having babies is not something we really talk about.

"I don't think the sex education at my school was good. I think we had one class in the second year and that was it. They kind of covered everything but it wasn't enough. I know there were some people who didn't understand."

MAZ LACEY, from Great Yarmouth, was 15 when she became pregnant. Now she is 18 and lives alone with her two-year-old son Joshua.

"I had no sex education when I was at school. I didn't think I could get pregnant the first time I had sex - but that's what happened. I can just about laugh about that now, but it wasn't funny at the time.

"The father, who is quite a bit older, hung around for the first three months but he's non-existent now.

"Me and my mum get on great but I was not really talking to her through the pregnancy, so I was totally on my own. GFS Platform, who run the local Young Womens' Project, were my support network. If they hadn't been there I think I would have crumbled.

"They found me somewhere to live in the months leading up to the birth. And now I go to their centre to study for a maths GCSE and do English Literature and DIY while Joshua plays in their creche.

"I had left school before I was pregnant. But Joshua has made me want to have more of an education because I want to be able to teach him things and get a job.

"Now I wouldn't be without Joshua but if I could have had him just the same later on, I think I would have waited until I was about 50. Money is one of the biggest problems. Other people my age take things for granted which I can't afford. If I want to buy new clothes or go out I've got to save up for two weeks."