Child marriage is a significant issue in the United States, often overlooked in discussions about child welfare and human rights. While it may not be as prevalent as in some other countries, it still affects many young individuals each year.
Child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union where one or both parties are under the age of 18. This practice has numerous negative consequences, including limiting educational opportunities, perpetuating poverty, and increasing the risk of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and health problems for young brides.
Legislation and regulations regarding child marriage in the United States differ from state to state. In recent years, several states have made efforts to raise the minimum age for marriage, often setting it at 18. However, exceptions still exist in many states, permitting marriage under the age of 18 with parental consent or a judge’s approval.
Advocacy groups, such as Unchained at Last and Girls Not Brides, work to raise awareness about the issue and push for policy changes to end child marriage in the United States. They argue that child marriage can lead to lifelong trauma and that current exceptions to age restrictions undermine the progress made in raising the minimum age for marriage.
To address this issue, advocates call for a comprehensive approach, including better enforcement of existing laws, changes to legislation that close loopholes allowing child marriage, and raising public awareness of the dangers and consequences associated with the practice.