A journalist's catchphrase, and not the economic crisis this time but a depressing if familiar story about teenage pregnancy.
The dad is 13-year-old Alfie Patten, and the mother is his 15-year-old 'girlfriend', Chantelle Stedman. Or alleged dad, since two other lads have now come forward saying that they too have had intercourse with Chantelle - who was just 14 when she became pregnant.
The part that depressed me most is not the particular case - it is unusual only in that Alfie is so young - but that lack of critical thinking in our politicians and those who craft our social policies.
Let me digress ever so slightly to mention Signal Detection Theory by Tanner and Swets, which was the product of research done at Bell Labs in the 50s. They looked at the problem of detecting a weak signal in the presence of noise and they reached an important conclusion. If you wanted to detect most of the signals, you would also generate a lot of false alarms. If you wanted to avoid false alarms, you would miss many signals. It's a law of nature and you can't avoid its consequences.
So consider social policy. If you will put up with a lot of discomfort (moral, social, financial) around teenage pregnancy, you would have few of them. If you protect those teenagers from the consequences of their pregnancies, you will have more of them.
If you are willing to allow unemployment to be unpleasant, you will have more people willing to work. If you cushion unemployment, you will end up with more people out of work.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't like people to suffer, not at all. But what I don't like is policies crafted without both sides of this equation being looked at. And it's not even that the policies we do have prevent suffering. Both families are completely dysfunctional. Alfie's dad seems to have had nine children, every one I believe by different partners. Chantelle's family seems to have condoned the two of them sleeping together. And now we have a new poor innocent entry into the dysfunctional stakes. This child is not going to have a good life. For a start, I wouldn't leave her alone in a room with her father for five minutes.
Matt Dunkley, director of children's services at East Sussex County Council, said: "Any birth to parents this young is a cause of great concern to us and in these circumstances we will always offer substantial support to the families involved". Well, that's nice of course, but let's just rephrase that as "We will make sure that the individuals concerned and shielded from the consequences of their behaviour".
There have been the usual bleatings about sex education. Frankly that has nothing to do with it. When I was that age we had virtually none, but we also had no intercourse and no pregnancy.
And shame, regret, remourse, guilt ....?
Not a dot as far as one can tell. It's a pity. I don't know where the idea has sprung from that guilt is a bad thing. It is the surest sign that you do actually have a superego and that you have a modicum of maturity.