Child Marriage as an Issue in United States of America

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Brief Overview of the Issue of Child Marriage in the US
  • Child Marriage and Why You Should Care
  • Literature Review
  • Evolution of the Research and Implications for Child Marriage
  • Conclusion
  • References


In this paper, I will be discussing child marriage in the united states and the laws and… I will begging with a brief overview of the issue at hand. Then, I will go in depth about this history of child marriage before and now. In addition, the steps taken so far to eradicate it. Last, but not least I will over my own thoughts on the matter and what steps I believe can be taken by the United States.

Brief Overview of the Issue of Child Marriage in the US

The United States is most known as a country that has rights related to protect individuals in the country. However, an issue that is rarely addressed in this country is child marriage. According to Global Citizen, Child Marriage is a “formal (or informal) marriage of a child under the age of 18 — most often the marriage of a young girl to an older boy or man”. Many people in this country may think this practice no longer exists in this society, but it is still a factor for many citizens and non-citizens residing in America. This issue is a problem in our society due young girls, those who statically married at a young age, in a traditional role of a housewife that they cannot consent to. There are laws created by the United States to focus on age of consent and being a legal adult, but there are loopholes by the state that can bring harm to these young women. Therefore, I desire to make this paper about cultural, social, and gender roles that young girls in child marriages face and how the United States should focus more on this issue.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

Child Marriage and Why You Should Care

This issue is important to me because of a variety of factors, but the first is control. In life, everyone may desire to have some control in their life. However, societal and culture pressures on women for centuries has let their control be from their family members or their husbands. An example of this can be how young girls may have their education stopped to fulfil their house household duties and/or get married. This is crazy to me because I feel that women have come so far in gaining rights and having to prove to others their full potential. However, the fact the young girls are still not allowed to do this is to upsets me and makes me want to make a change.

Another factor that make this topic important for me is because of the women in my family. My mother and many of my relatives are from Belize which is a collectivist society. A collectivist society is defined by as people in a society thinking of the good of the society and not just the person. Therefore community is a big factor in Belize. However, there is still a gender divide. Women are at home doing household duties and taking care of the children. However men are working in different occupations to provide income for the family. Therefore, some women in the country have to follow rules and expectations based on a traditional gender role.

However, the women in my family strive to break away from traditional gender roles and be financial stable and independent to reach their full potential. They accomplished this by gaining different job experience and creating business in and out of Belize. Having seen these women fight against social pressures make me want to be strong and independent to make my way in the world without barriers. However, I wish that all women should have this opportunity. Especially for young girls which is an aspect I will dig into for my paper.

Literature Review

From my personal research, there is no set deadline of when child marriage begun. However, there may be a link between the reasoning between why child marriages happen. According to Uecker and Charles (2008) young marriage is more likely to occur due to “individual demographic and family background”. Young marriage and child marriage are not the same concepts. However, factors of young marriages can relate to child marriage and explain why it happens. These factors can be seen most in the south of the United States of America. Young girls, in the south, may be the only option in their lives. This can be even seen by television shows like Big Fat American Gyspy Wedding where young gyspy girls who marry young state that there whole purpose to be a stay at home wife. This is not generally a bad thing, but is a factor that I will go into more details later.

I can connect this back to history based on the stereotypes of women in families. In the article by Dominica Dipio (2008), it discuss the basic stereotypes of women and men. Men are seen as the hunters and women as the gathers. This can relate back to modern society stereotypes of a family dynamic. Where a man is in the husband role who provides for their wife and children by working. On the opposite angle, women are put in the wife role where they take care of the household and children. Based on this research, young women in the south may see that being a wife and following gender norms lead them to a life of stability and following society’s and their families’ expectations of them.

Besides, the historical aspect of child marriages, there is statically evidence of child marriages. According to Koski and Heymann (2018), there are a variety of studies done on child marriage from the 1970’s and on. The study from the 1970-80’s focused on the statistical outcome of child marriages have on young girls. The result stated that married young girls who are 16 and under are 31 percent more likely to drop out of school and be in poverty. In addition, “ they are at greater risk of experiencing mental health and substance abuse disorders later in life”. Though, this is an older statistic it does give a glimpse of the disadvantages faced by young girls who get married.

Another article by Schuman (2019) gives a recent example of how many children in the United States are getting married. Over 200,000 children in the United States have been married from the year 2000 to 2015. These statistics give us a glimpse that though child marriage is not happening at a high percentage into eh country. It has not completely diminished.

The United States have made many laws to protect people. Some of these laws are created to protect young children from child marriages. According to Schuman (2019), there are a variety of laws created in the United States to protect children from child marriages that if broken can lead to punishments by law. One of these laws does not have a date, but it is known as the first law to focus on child marriage. The law is called the English Common law. The law consist of three aspects below “(1) children under the age of seven; (2) children between seven and the “ age of discretion” – fourteen for boys and twelve for girls; and (3) children who reached the age of discretion”(p 2342).

This law is the basis for many states on child marriage during the early years of the US history. In addition, it did help young children from marrying before the age of 12. However, many states created their own laws on marriages. During the 1850’s, many states made marriage laws that stated that below a certain age a child can still marry with their parent’s approval. However in 1971, many states made marriage consent age to be 18 for women and 21 for men. This came to be cause of movements like the Women’s Rights Movement. However, there are a variety of states that have changed their laws slightly from the English Common Laws. One of these changes are that children can get married with only judicial consent. These laws push back the work done by society to stop negative factors attacked to child marriages like abuse.

In addition, Koski and Heymann (2018) mention how immigrant families allow child marriages due to religious and social practices from generations. In addition, though many cultures have different beliefs and ideologies, not all the practices put young girls in a safe environment where they can thrive. In no way am I diminishing the experience of different cultures. However, I would like to know the experience of these young women and if they desire their marriages. I found that some women don’t in other countries. In the article, What it is like to be child bride (Hedayat 2011), Seema from India stated that “Before I was a kid, and now I'm having a kid. Of course it's scary.'

This is only one quote of many women in several countries who stated that they felt that child marriage was against their wishes. This is one of many evidence about how the women put in these situations are against it. According to Lee Rife, Malhotra, Warner, and Glinski (2012), there is a large amount of third world countries with high rates of child marriages. Some of these countries are India, North Africa, and Middle Eastern countries. Over the course of this paper, I have gone over a lot of the reasoning of history of child marriage and statistices, but this article gives more of the reasoning of families. The article stated that some families, in third world countries, may marry their children due to a smaller dowry and sexuality activity. Razu wrote an article that stated that another factor can be the girls can be seen as a financial burden to their families. Though, these families have their reasoning for marrying their children, but in many countries it is illegal. However, several families continue to keep their practices because it has been happening for centuries.

Evolution of the Research and Implications for Child Marriage

Many third world countries, still have the highest rate of child marriages in our modern society. However, many first world countries like the United States believe that it is not a excruciating issue in the country. The reasoning behind this is because people think it does not happen anymore or very rarely. I disagree with these because of the many articles I have researched for this paper showing sufficient evidence that it is an issue. Therefore, I believe that solutions must be made into bring awareness to this issue and to start the diminish of such practices.

The first aspect of child marriage that should lead to a solution is the social aspect. Society has been one of the greatest factors of this issue in the past and today. As I stated before Schuman (2019) discussed how many laws over the past few centuries have been created about this social issue and the loopholes in these laws. Therefore, I think that society, focusing on the United States, needs to create laws on a state level that specific state that young girls under the age of 18 should not be married whether they have an adult consent or a judicial procedure. I believe that young girls should not be allowed to get married with adult consent because we have no idea the reasoning of the parents/guardians is to benefit the child. There has been many cases that it is due to violence or money.

Additionally, society is known for taking their time with obtaining justice. Therefore, I think one way to benefit these young girls is to hold those accountable for making them child brides. One way this can happen is giving punishments to a variety of people. Sadly, this could be a sad situation, but these people may have broken the law in their state and endangered children. These people can be parents/guardians involved in the marriage and the older husband the child is married too. Furthermore, judges should lose their license and have changes pressed against them in these case. These are people in power who decide to take advantage of the power and agree to parents’ wishes even when it is wrong. An article by Clark (2019) had a Mississippi judge agree to a marriage between a 15 and 43 because the young girl’s mother said it would be in her child’s best interest. These new laws and charges will not only be a great first start, but also put society in perspective of how they can fix their mistakes of the past.

The next aspect that needs to change is how a cultural outlook sees Child marriages, When thinking of solutions, I desired one thing. To not have these cultures feel that their culture is less than anther. Coming from a culture that is constantly culture appropriate by a majority is why I wanted to find solutions that cater to a variety of cultures. One solution I thought is having people in the community voice their opinions on the matter. I chose this because everyone has a different experience and having people come in from a different cultural background tell another culture what they are doing is wrong. I feel that it is unaffected and can look like a nonviolent way of colonize a culture. I mentioned before about an article by Hedayat (2011) who had interviewed individual in India about their experiences of child marriage. A few of the interviews featured women who were not married, but took a stand against it helping other young girls not get married. The method these women took brings me into my next solution.

This next solution tied to first cultural solution is to create more opportunities for immigrant women in America. Hedayat (2011) mentioned that women in India who were able to gain job positions leading to financial stability that a marriage could give. I feel that this could be implemented for immigrant women who come to America. In my hometown, there is an immigrant program where new immigrants are given resources and support. I feel this could be implemented to give these women opportunities to follow their passion and support themselves and families.

The last aspect of change that can be made is regarding gender. My first part of the solution is similar to culture where women can speak about their experiences. There has been articles and interviews where people discuss these experiences and making it mainstream. Therefore, I think this one of the best steps because it gives young girls, who are in the same position, representation and someone to talk to reach out for help. Overall, I have gone over solutions that hit gender, social, and cultural aspects. I have no way of saying these solutions will work. However, I think throughout research that this is a good first step.


Over the course of this paper, I have discussed how child marriage is still an issue in America. I discussed the history of child marriage and the first always made against it. Then the statistics of it is still happening in the world and America. Next, how the world sees it as an issue in third world countries and not in first world countries. Last, but not least I discussed a variety of proposed solutions I have created that I feel can help this solution. Going into this paper, I didn’t realize how much knowledge I would gain about this topic, but now I feel that I can advocate for this important issue.


  1. Burns, C. (2014). Why Domestic Institutions Are Failing Child Brides:
  2. A Comparative Analysis of India’s and the United States’ Legal Approaches to the Institution of Child Marriage. Tulane Journal of International & Comparative Law, 23(1), 151–176
  3. Collectivism - Dictionary Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  4. Child Marriage: Everything You Need to Know. (2019, August 27). Retrieved from
  5. Dipio, D. (2008). Unearthing Motherhood Myths and Stereotypes: Gender Roles in Madi Folktales. Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, (76), 141-153
  6. Hedayat, N. (2011, October 4). What is it like to be a child bride? Retrieved from
  7. Koski, A., & Heymann, J. (2018). Child Marriage in the United States: How Common Is the Practice, And Which Children Are at Greatest Risk? Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health, 50(2), 59–65
  8. Lee-Rife, S., Malhotra, A., Warner, A., & Glinski, A. (2012). What Works to Prevent Child Marriage: A Review of the Evidence. Studies in Family Planning, 43(4), 287-303
  9. RAZU, S. R. (2018). Determinants of Early Marriage among Women: An Experience from Rural Bangladesh. Gender Studies (1583-980X), 17(1), 127–136
  10. Uecker, J., & Stokes, C. (2008). Early Marriage in the United States. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(4), 835-846 

Get quality help now

Prof Essil

Verified writer

Proficient in: Crime, Human Rights, Family

4.8 (1570 reviews)
“Really responsive and extremely fast delivery! I have already hired her twice!”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Child Marriage Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.