A clear case of family neglect

NEWBORN Maisie Roxanne was brandished as a trophy, dressed like a doll in a pink striped babygro emblazoned with bright pink lettering 'I love my Mummy and Daddy'.

NEWBORN Maisie Roxanne was brandished as a trophy, dressed like a doll in a pink striped babygro emblazoned with bright pink lettering 'I love my Mummy and Daddy'.

I wonder how she'll feel about those words, the photo and her parents named on her birth certificate in 15 years' time.

'Mummy', wearing her school uniform for the cameras, was sitting on a bed beside 'Daddy' who, according to published NSPCC guidelines, is three years too young to be left to baby-sit an infant. Too young to baby-sit but old enough to father.

Mummy is 15 and Daddy is 13 - but looks far younger - and was 12 apparently when little Maisie was conceived.

Most people probably felt physical shock when they first saw the photo of cherubic-faced Alfie with his daughter.

A week-old baby-cum-cash cow for a family of low lives who make Jeremy Kyle's guests look classy.

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Within days of that poor little girl's birth, the baby parents were hawked around the media on offer to the highest bidder by a collection of parents - I've lost count of how many mums, dads, stepparents and children there are between them all.

Alfie's - apparently more absent than active - dad Dennis, who has nine other children, wore an apt devil's mask as he went on his mission hell bent on making a mint for himself out of his little boy's night of adolescent passion.

Feeling sick? It gets worse.

As little Alfie looked like a rabbit in the headlights, two other teenagers staked their claim to Maisie - or a share of the dosh - claiming they could be the father.

In the unseemly melee, Chantelle's mother, as dim as the rest of them, said it was 'lovely' Chantelle had had a baby. 'Lovely'?

Apparently Alfie was so accustomed to staying the night with Chantelle he kept a spare school uniform at her home.

Morality, appropriateness and everything else aside, one word screams out to sum up this whole story - neglect.

Such an acute level of neglect where was the Nanny state - so keen on interfering, prohibiting and prescribing how we live - when Chantelle, Alfie and a poor newborn were being sold to the highest bidder by the very people who should love and protect them most?

Surely blatant case for social services to protect these children behind closed doors - protect them from their own families.

Where were their parents during conception? According to Collins Concise Dictionary, the definition of neglect in the context of neglecting a child is 'to fail to give due care, attention or time to the child.

Neither child, nor the new baby, has been or is being given due care, attention nor time.

Parents have been neglectful in their role of moral guardians and as protectors of their children's health.

To allow a 15-year-old girl to have underage sex with one boy let alone several more is a clear-cut case of neglect, as is allowing a 12-13-year-old boy to partly live with his 'girlfriend' exposing them both to sexually transmitted diseases as well as the inevitable outcome.

Abdicating parenting responsibility amounts to neglect.

But, the most revolting aspect of this horrible, horrible story isn't the teenage pregnancy - having a baby young doesn't have to be a disaster and many teenage mothers have made wonderful parents and brought up great children.

No, the most hideous taste is left by the continuing selfish actions of the parents, parading these simple children in front of the cameras for money, prostituting them for the highest price and seemingly caring little for their welfare.

These problems occur. But decent families pull together behind closed doors in the best interests of the children, to help them cope and get through.

These dirty money grabbers make even characters in Channel Four's Shameless appear decent.

From a 13-year age gap between father and daughter to a 28-year age gap between Madonna and her alleged Brazilian toy boy.

Madonna, 50 - reportedly the same age as her new beau's granny - is accused by 22-year-old Jesus Pinto da Luz's mother of kidnapping her son, hiding him away in her New York love nest and controlling his every move.

Madonna cradle snatching Jesus. You couldn't make it up.

Jade Goody has every right to live out her last days in the same way as she made her name - in the public eye - whatever sniffy critics might say.

As unpalatable as it might be to some, Jade's doing what she knows - continuing her personal soap opera for money.

If 'keeping busy', as her publicists call it, and focusing on making funds for her sons' future after her death, is what she wants to do, who is she hurting, apart from, perhaps, herself?

Before our eyes everyone can see and understand the devastation cancer can wreak, so fast, on anyone, however young, however wealthy, however famous.

Cancer is indiscriminate, too often incurable and unpredictable. Cancer also makes people feel uncomfortable and prefer sufferers to lock themselves away or at least wear a wig to face the world.

Watching Jade's deterioration is heartbreaking. A 27-year-old mother of two young sons wasting away before our eyes.

But it's real, happening to men and women in communities everywhere.

The difference with Jade is that it's in our face, is horrible, terrifying and distressing but is making each and every one of us more aware.

As much as I love him, the last person I'd have wanted to bunk up in the maternity ward me after the births of my two sons is my husband.

During both labours I spent equal time worrying about him, how was he coping, did he need his sandwiches and would he stay the course as I did concentrating on my breathing, 'throwing away the pain' and focusing on the end result.

Frankly, when he went home after both births I was relieved to be left in peace to bond with my baby.

So thank goodness I've got all that over with before a new move announced this week to encourage new fathers to stay overnight in maternity wards after the birth of their children.

Apparently, according to the Government's Child Health Strategy, it will improve fathers' involvement.

Just get them in the way, more like.

Faced with 'it'll have to do' shoddy service by incompetents wherever you choose to spend your hard-earned money these days, it's fitting that outstanding service is recognised publicly.

For years now, we've rented white goods from Hughes after a long and calamitous history of buying washing machines and dishwashers that were apparently jinxed and regularly needed fortunes spending on them in repairs. Or perhaps it was just the operator.

Anyway, a friend suggested renting, meaning we could replace and upgrade whenever and recommended Hughes for customer care for repairs and replacement as second to none.

For a decade I've never been disappointed. I've enjoyed A1 service from charming call centre staff and the men who deliver, fit and repair from Lowestoft are always charming, communicative and superb ambassadors for the company.

They always turn up when they say they will and are efficient and courteous.

Credit where credits due. The team offers gold standard service, which is hard to find nowadays.

Being lonely is as bad for our health as smoking and obesity, according to experts.

It can raise blood pressure and waken the immune system, cause sleep problems and even the progression of dementia.

But when three of my closest friends, all hard-working intelligent ambitious single mothers left bruised, disillusioned and low in confidence by relationship break-ups, confided they had started internet dating to combat loneliness and perk up their lives, I flew into spiralling panic.

What were they getting into? Who on earth would they find on the net? Would they be who they said they were? How safe were they?

They had been on their own for a while and were sick of just being mum and at work. They were looking for a diversion from the mundanity of domestics and professional, someone to go to the cinema and theatre with, to meet for a meal, to chat about matters other than work and the children and to have some fun.

I knew it could work. Another close friend, then a single mum, had met her now husband 13 years ago through a dating agency and it was the best thing she had ever done and they're still living happily, with a child of their own.

But I was worried. How wrong I was.

Internet dating is one of the best inventions of modern times for busy, time-poor fussy people who wouldn't be seen in dead in a club to pick up a partner and don't work in the type of organisations to find romance.

One, who has spent six years on her own after her husband left her with three children for another woman, has met not only a wonderful man but someone who ticks all the boxes as her equal intellectually, career wise and financially - no mean feat because this woman is something of a wonderwoman at work, intimidating for some men - and she is deliriously happy for the first time in years.

His daughters are delighted their dad has met someone special, her children are thrilled mum's 'got a life' and I'm so happy to see her floating on cloud nine after six hard years.

Another friend is managing the perfect long distance romance with a man five hours drive away. She can meet her new man - who at 37 has no baggage of ex-wives and children - on the weekends her daughters are with their father, which suits both of them, fine.

The other, who was looking to extend her circle of friends rather than find 'the one', is having the time of her life dining out, meeting new people.

A cynical as I was, Internet dating rocks and there's no excuse to put up with destructive loneliness ever again.