Child Marriage should be Illegal

Major Claim/ Thesis Statement:

The marriage of a child is a practice that is surrounded by controversy. To allow a minor to get married is to open them to higher chances of abuse and potentially let grown people out of the legal ramifications for rape charges; but to refuse minors the right to marriage infringing on a citizen’s right to “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness”(Declaration of Independence) among other things. The practice of child marriage cannot be stopped without undermining certain rights but the practice also cannot continue to harm young people who end up in these situations that are not consensual or safe, therefore in order for a minor to wed there must be new safeguards to protect the minor while giving them the freedom to be married. Safeguards should include: a federal minimum age even if the child has parental consent, giving minors the rights of adults once married so they may take legal action like a divorce if their situation is not beneficial, a maximum age for an adult marrying a minor, and thorough evaluations of potential spouses such as extensive background checks to safeguard abuse before it can happen in a union.

Essay Introduction:

Side/Perspective 1: Child marriage should be 100% illegal with no loopholes or special circumstances if the couple wishes to be wed so badly marriage can wait till both parties are 18.

Side/Perspective 2: There should be a way for young people to get married before the age of 18 just for the sake of love as well there are circumstances that warrant it such as emancipated minors, people going to go into the military who wish to marry their partner before shipping out, and pregnant minors who wish to not be legally single parents.

All Readers Are Stakeholders Because: Regardless of the stance taken the term Child Marriage is alarming so looking into ways to alter the practice in a way that would not be seen in a developing nation would be beneficial. In a U.S. college edition dictionary there is no mention of child marriage or a child bride, in The World Dictionary there is the term child bride, the lack of awareness is also a cause for concern this is a situation taking place in the U.S. therefore all citizens of the U.S. have a stake in the issue. The term Child Bride is a term not associated with an American girl yet the practice of child marriage is closely related in some circles.

Need for resolution: There are too many inconsistencies across state lines so at the very least there should be consistency among the nation. Children should not be robbed of their childhood but citizens should also not be denied their rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Body Section 1:

On one side, many people believe the practice of child marriage is endangering children and robbing them of their childhood.

Sub-Claim/Topic Sentence 1: Many people believe a person getting married under the age of eighteen is a recipe for abuse.

Evidence/Grounds: According to “Why America Still Permits Child Marriage” it is said that “Married children are twice as likely to live in poverty and three times more likely to be beaten by spouses than are married adults.”

Warrant/Reasoned Explanation of that Evidence: Given that these minors are not adults and most likely do not have much experience in any type of relationships, these children may not be aware of the severity of the situation they have been placed in. If a person lacks experience they will not know the steps needed to take in order to remove themselves from this type of situation.

Sub-Claim/Topic Sentence 2: Such people also believe when people get married so young they are being forced into it.

Evidence/Grounds: “Child marriage survivors often say they were forced to marry against their will, particularly if they were pregnant…” according to, “Leave Us Kids Alone: A Look at Child Marriage in the US and Beyond.”

Warrant/Reasoned Explanation of that Evidence: A person under the age of eighteen cannot marry without the consent of one or more parents but maybe the parent is a cause of the issue. In other countries arranged and forced marriages are more commonly known and set up by the parents so the same thing can be and is taking place in the U.S.

Body Section 2:

On the other side, some people see getting married under the age of eighteen as a way for a young person to move into a new season of life and signify their journey into adulthood.

Sub-Claim/Topic Sentence 1: There are young people who are emancipated and wish to marry. Sometimes there will be a couple that wishes to marry because one person is in the military and they wish to form a union before their partner ships off. To outlaw child marriage, older teens would be denied the chance to be with someone they love in a legal union.

Evidence/Grounds: In the words of Otterstrom, “Emancipated minor children are freed from their parents’ control, as they are deemed totally independent and legally able to make all decisions about their own health, education, and welfare”

Warrant/Reasoned Explanation of that Evidence: A blanket age requirement with no exceptions would block emancipated minors from getting married and that would strip them of their legal ability to make their own decisions.

Sub-Claim/Topic Sentence 2: Through the nation’s history marriage of people under the age of eighteen has existed, marriage is about maturity as well as love and tradition.

Evidence/Grounds: In Berman’s findings there is a “ wide-ranging history of child marriage from the colonial period through the present.” In an interview, Ice stated, “We were young but we were both mature and I was through with school so it seemed like the right time..”

Warrant/Reasoned Explanation of that Evidence: Age is a number as cases for emancipation show, some people grow up much quicker and might be more mature at the age of 15 than some people are at the age of 18. If a person can take care of their self and divorce from their parents they should be allowed to marry if they so choose.

Body Section 3:

Common Value of the Sides: Both have a vested interest in making sure children/ young people are given opportunities that allow them to thrive while still being safe. Another common value is both sides want consistency within the U.S. because according to Blankley there are 25 states without a minimum and most states have different legislation in place allowing for loopholes under the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Solution from Thesis: The option of marriage should be available to minors with safeguards such as: a federal minimum age of sixteen even if the child has parental consent, giving minors the rights of adults once married so they may take legal action like a divorce if their situation is not beneficial, a maximum age for an adult marrying a minor, judicial discretion in the decision, and thorough evaluations of potential spouses such as extensive background checks to safeguard abuse before it can happen in a union.

Sub-Claim/Topic Sentence 1: A federal minimum of sixteen should be put in place regardless of circumstance.

Evidence/Grounds: “Marriage Laws around the World.” shows global policies and a common minimum is sixteen with parental consent and eighteen without will insert a graphic from source with some countries specific policies in other nations. According to Sandstorm, “most countries (153 of 198) require that people who want to marry be adults…But many of these same nations have some kind of exemption to this requirement.”

Warrant: At the age of sixteen the United States starts to give minors some rights of passage such as driving, a young person can also seek emancipation at this age. This monumental age is better perceived as a beginning to adulthood so adding the prospect of a minimum age for marriage to this age would line up with other possibilities already allocated to young people. By removing exemptions the law will be made more rigid and easier to enforce across the board.

Sub-Claim/Topic Sentence 2: Making the marriage process lengthier and having more evaluations will better protect young people.

Evidence/Grounds: In Tsui’s podcast a case in which a judge denied a marriage license is mentioned as well as a woman who was underage but independent who had to work through a lengthy process to get married.

Warrant: In the podcast, the judge’s decision is described to have potentially saved this young person from a forced marriage if the process is further extended more people will be stopped in the process. A lengthier process also makes minor’s question their decision, if a young person does not find it worth it to put forth the work to get married they would have potentially not been able to make through a marriage.


Topic Sentence: By allowing for minors to marry there is a risk of people forcing young people into marriages to protect rapists from statutory rape charges.

Concession: That is a possibility if the rapist were able to groom the victim into working towards a marriage process and depending on the state the marriage would happen at an age under the age of consent in some states and further legal action regarding a rape case might be dropped by the state.

Refutation: This is already happening, and it is happening to people younger than sixteen, to implement a federal age minimum regardless of circumstance would potentially help a lot of young people brought into these situations. A new set of safe guards might also take these accusations into consideration before a marriage license is handed out halting the process altogether for people in these instances. -Tsui.


Restatement of why all are Stakeholders: The wellbeing of children is a cause for concern for all in the U.S. The youth of today will control the future so the way they are treated will affect all eventually so they need to have provisions that keep them safe but allow for freedoms.

Restatement of common shared values: The wellbeing of children is a cause for concern for all in the U.S.

Restatement of why all benefit from solution proposed: With the solution proposed there will be consistency within the U.S. am there will be standards set in place that will no longer have the U.S. in league with developing nations.

Works Cited

  1. Berman, Cassandra N. “American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States by Nicholas L. Syrett.” Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 38, no. 3, 2018, pp. Fall 2018. 578–580., doi:10.1353/jer.2018.0065.
  2. Blankley, Bethany. “Analysis: Child Marriage Is Legal in 49 U.S. States.”,, 25 May 2018, Accessed 11 Mar. 2019.
  3. “Child Bride.” World Book Dictionary, 2001 ed., World Book, 2001, p. 354.
  4. Ice, Marilyn R. Personal Interview. 24 Mar. 2019
  5. “Leave Us Kids Alone: A Look at Child Marriage in the US and Beyond.” Irish Examiner, 15 Dec. 2018, Accessed 13 Mar. 2019.
  6. “Marriage Laws around the World.” Pew Research Center, 2016, Accessed 13 Mar. 2019.
  7. Otterstrom, Kristina. “Emancipation of Minors: Children’s Right and Privileges.” Emancipation of Minors: Children’s Right and Privileges –, 2019, Accessed 13 Mar. 2019.
  8. Sandstrom, Aleksandra, and Angelina E. Theodorou. “Many Countries Allow Children to Marry.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 12 Sept. 2016, Accessed 11 Mar. 2019.
  9. Tsui, Anjali. “Child Marriage in America.” the Frontline Dispatch, OETA, 14 Sept. 2017.
  10. Accessed 24 Feb. 2019.
  11. “Why America Still Permits Child Marriage.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 3 Jan. 2018, Accessed 24 Feb. 2019.
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Child Marriage Should Be Illegal. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved August 4, 2021 , from

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