Child marriage is still prominent and very legal in the U.S., here’s what you need to know:

Zoe Sanders, News Editor

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Imagine if a sophomore in high school decided to get married. Most people would think that sounds crazy and impossible, there must be laws against that, right? The answer is no, there aren’t. Over 200,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2015, and statistically 70 to 80 percent of those ended in divorce.  

I think far more people should be aware of the dangers of child marriage and how easy it is to marry off children. It’s 2019 and parents are still allowed to force girls as young as 12 to marry men who are far older. I think it isn’t discussed [very often] because people don’t want to face the fact that it’s still legal. We don’t want to believe that a country like America could allow something like that. Another reason [for people not knowing about child marriage] I came across was people thinking it was perfectly fine to marry off minors to adults. They want to pretend that it is always a consensual relationship and look at it with ignorance instead of admitting that an adult marrying a child is wrong plain and simple,” senior Meredith Bieber said. Bieber covered child marriage and its’ prevalence in the U.S. in her English class this year. 

In May 2018 Delaware became the first state in the U.S. to make marriage for people under 18 illegal, with New Jersey following in June. One of the most lenient states on child marriage is Missouri, allowing people as young as 15 to marry and requiring only one parent signature. More than 1,000 15-year-olds have been married in Missouri since 1999. Not to mention those younger than 15 who also get married in Missouri, as they’re one of 25 states with no minimum age requirement. According to the Kansas City Star “A review of some 50,000 marriage licenses shows how Missouri’s lax law has for years turned the state into a destination wedding spot for 15-year-old child brides, often rushing to get married. Some traveled up to 1,800 miles to Missouri…” 

I believe that child marriage is wrong, no matter what the circumstances are. I don’t care if the child consents or not, that isn’t real consent to me. The human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25, meaning minors don’t have enough experience to make that decision yet,” Bieber said. It takes away their childhood, their innocence and their freedom to learn their way through life as a kid. It’s not right to put them through that kind of stress at such a young age.”  

In addition to the lack of laws against child marriage, girls who marry before 18 are 50 percent more likely to drop out of high school. Marriage before 18 also doubles the chances they’ll live in poverty and triples the chances they’ll be beaten by their spouse. In addition to that, girls between 15 and 19 also twice as likely to die during childbirth, their newborn children also face greater risks of dying. 

I do think people would be shocked to learn how prevalent and easy it is to get away with in this day and age... it’s upsetting to learn how many people are completely unaware of this issue. I hope that soon America can realize how damaging this can be to a child and make marriage before the age of 18 illegal [in all states],” Bieber said.