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Child Marriage Poses Serious Risks to Children

Child marriage remains a serious problem in present-day America. Since 2000, well over 200,000 minors were married, most of them girls married to adult men. Children lack the rights and resources of adults and are more vulnerable to coercion and predation. As a result, many child marriages are forced marriages, and/or are cover-ups for other abuse and exploitation.

Marriage before age 18 has devastating, lifelong consequences, including greater vulnerability to sexual and domestic violence, increased medical and mental health problems, higher drop-out rates from high school and college, greater risk of poverty, and up to 80% divorce rates. Read this backgrounder to learn how child marriage, even if by “choice,” denies young people the opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

State laws that allow child marriage to persist can ratchet up these risks. To learn more, explore our 50-state statutory compilation and legislative analyses, survivor story compilation, and other resources at tahirih.org/childmarriage.

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