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Gen Z Supports Child Marriage More Than Boomers

by News7

Gen Z is largely in favor of child marriage, breaking away with other generations’ view on the controversial practice, recent Newsweek polling data shows.

In the Newsweek poll, 44 percent of Gen Z said they supported child marriage, and 57 percent said they would support the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in their efforts to oppose child marriage bans. Only 30 percent of the general survey population of 1,500 Americans supported child marriage.

Compared to baby boomers specifically, Gen Z’s belief that child marriage should remain legal across the states was substantial, as only 17 percent of the older generation felt the same.

Photo-illustration by Newsweek/Getty
The reasons for Gen Z’s support might be perplexing to some but could make sense in the larger sense that Gen Z was more recently children (and many still are), so they’d want those under the 18 to have more freedom under the law.

However, according to HR consultant and generation expert Bryan Driscoll, it’s still “deeply concerning” that Gen Z feels this way.

“The surprising poll results might reflect a lack of awareness about the severe consequences of child marriage,” Driscoll told Newsweek. “Young people, including Gen Z, might be misinformed or influenced by misleading narratives that frame opposition to such bans as an issue of personal freedom or cultural tradition.”

Across the country, child marriage is still widely decided by state lawmakers. Many states do not enforce a minimum age requirement for marriage, and some states merely require approval from a guardian and a court order.

This leads to grave concerns in situations in which a child is being abused and pressured to marry someone by their own family members.

Despite the lack of bans on child marriage nationwide, the United Nations has defined child marriage as a human rights violation.

Child marriage often leads to interrupted education, increased health risks and an overall higher likelihood of experiencing poverty and domestic violence, Driscoll said.

“Prohibiting child marriage protects young people from exploitation and abuse, ensures they have the opportunity to complete their education, and allows them to mature emotionally and psychologically before making such a significant life decision,” Driscoll said.

Unchained At Last said that about 300,000 children in America became married between 2000 and 2018. Of that group, 86 percent were girls, and the majority were married to adult men.

In West Virginia, where child marriage rates are high, a law banning child marriage received pushback by Republicans who said it infringed unnecessarily into the freedoms of young people.

“The only thing it’s going to do is cause harm and trouble in young people’s lives,” Republican Harrison County Delegate Keith Marple said before the state’s House of Delegates voted to pass the bill.

Delegate Doug Smith also said allowing child marriage is not terribly different from allowing a child to join the military at age 17 with parental consent, which happens often.

“I believe that there should be exceptions for age 16 or 17, with parental consent,” Smith said at the time. “Heck, you can join the military at 17 with parental consent, but with this bill you can’t get married until you are 18. I feel that there could be other situations that would warrant an exception.”

Currently, only 12 states outright ban child marriage under age 18.

Gen Z and the broader opposition to child marriage bans might stem from a Libertarian or anti-government intervention stance, and young people are frequent champions of defending individual rights.

Still, Driscoll questions the reality of that logic.

“Child marriage is not a matter of personal freedom but a serious human rights violation,” Driscoll said. “What about the child’s personal freedom? If they can marry, can they vote? Can they drink? Can they drive? Can they make their own health care decisions?”

ACLU PushAccording to Martha Bailey, a law professor at Queen’s University in Canada, the reasons the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are objecting to child marriage bans are a bit more complicated. Specifically, they’re looking to end any limit on the autonomy of children because they could potentially lead to restrictions on the ability of minors to get abortions.

“Gen Z is perhaps impatient with any limits on choice,” Bailey told Newsweek.

Previously, the ACLU said that banning child marriage “unnecessarily and unduly intrudes on the fundamental right of marriage without sufficient cause,” and that the organization believes “that some youth can appropriately make this decision for themselves.”

“Lawmakers set different ages for permitting people to do various activities—drive cars, buy alcohol, serve in the military, vote, consent to sex, make a will,” Bailey said. “The rules that prevent children from doing certain things are generally protective. The evidence we have is that children need protection from being coerced into marriage.”

Bailey said children are not generally fighting for the right to marry, and they wouldn’t obtain any benefits from it.

“It is adults who want child marriage,” Bailey said. “Just as it was adults who fought for the “right” of children to work in coal mines.”

The health care concerns may differ, especially as it relates to children’s access to contraception and abortion, Bailey said.

“Just because we determine that certain activities—marriage, voting—are restricted to adults does not mean that children should have no legal rights or responsibilities,” Bailey said.

Uncommon KnowledgeNewsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Source : Newsweek

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