No child should be able to get married before she can get a driver’s license

The Colorado Sun

December 2, 2018

By Diane Carman

I’m trying to imagine a Colorado bank approving a 30-year home mortgage for a 15-year-old. Or an agency authorizing an adoption of an infant by a 14-year-old. Or a 13-year-old hiring a divorce attorney.

OK, those images are absurd. After all, you have to be 16 to get a driver’s license, 18 to vote.

And yet, in Colorado and 17 other states, children can be legally married to a man or woman over 21. Since 2006, at least 2,240 marriage licenses were issued in Colorado to couples where at least one person was under 18, many 15 years old or younger.

In so many ways, that’s not just absurd, it’s unconscionable.

“In terms of the whole development of the brain, adolescence is such an important time,” said Joanne Belknap, professor of criminology and social justice at the University of Colorado Boulder. “It’s the time when we are determining who we are outside of our parents and what our beliefs are versus those of everyone around us.”

It’s when we begin to establish what is trendily referred to as “agency.”

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