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Parental Consent

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Parental Consent

The age of consent has been a controversial issue that can be dated back to ancient Greece and Roman times. Consent is having full knowledge and understanding of an agreement and according to pure common law children have the reason to be married at age seven. United States ages of consent range from sixteen to eighteen and sometime younger depending on the circumstances of the situation in each individual state. These laws have been established for numerous reasons; to protect the virginity of women from thieving men, to protect predatory women from setting up older men, to limit pre-marital sex, and to fight teenage pregnancy. The logic of the laws has been adjusted to the norms of society overtime. These set laws are justified because in the U.S. Constitution children are considered property of the father, although they are considered free citizens, they are still under the care of a parent or legal guardian who are entitled to care and nurture their child disabling them from certain statutes of the law because they are considered a minor. Because of this, many governments believe that before engaging in such activities, minors need the consent of their parents. Another reason for parental consent laws is to protect minors. Jurisprudence holds the belief that minors lack the capacity to make informed decisions.

Some may argue that some children mature much earlier than others but it can be difficult measuring maturity. Maturity is a fully developed body or mind but there is no determining maturity which is why there must be some type of guideline as to what age the majority is mature. Eighteen is an age in this society where most children finish their basic schooling. At this point in their lives, it is expected that they should know what they are doing, how they are doing it, and the consequences that may or not come because of their actions. Trying to establish an age of a child and when laws apply to their lives is hard situation. If a fourteen year old were too shoot and murder someone they would most likely get tried as an adult and be put in prison for life. So in this instance, why is it okay for a fourteen year old to be looked at as an adult legally in this situation but not able to get married without parental consent?

In most states the age of consent for marriage is eighteen and with parental consent sixteen. But in the circumstance of a pregnancy some states grant the minors a marriage license. New Jersey is an example of a more liberal state and gives more leniency to underaged children. The New Jersey age of consent law says that the age of consent is eighteen. With parental consent, parties can marry at age sixteen or younger. Also, younger parties may receive a license by reason of pregnancy or the birth of a child or other special circumstances. New Jersey offers some spousal rights to registered same sex domestic partners. Common law marriage is not recognized. All the states differ when it comes to the age of consent laws and there is no real guideline in the constitution as too when a child is legally able to get married due to the tenth amendment. Ratified in 1719 as part of the bill of rights the tenth amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people." States determine the laws of marriage because it is not mentioned in the Constitution reserved powers clause. The tenth amendment also covers anything age related consent laws.

The laws are very lax in the US, and this is not recognized nationally but internationally also. National governments have ratified international conventions protecting children's rights except the United States. The Elders, a group of Noble Peace Prize winner and former heads of state or government have been collaboratively working together to focus child rights. Most young marriages are forced upon children and arranged by the parents. There are still many supporters of child marriage around the world, a lot of them women who use tradition as well as economic and social concerns to back up their reasoning. "Child marriage is not a religious practice--it is a tradition," writes Tutu. "There are many good



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