Tennessee Republicans propose ending age requirement for marriage

Tennessee Republicans are moving forward with a bill that would eliminate age requirements for marriage in the state.

The bill, HB 233, is scheduled to be heard in the House Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday and would establish common-law marriage between “one man” and “one woman,” but it does not include a minimum age requirement. Opponents of the bill said it could open up the possibility of child marriages. The current age for marriage in the state is 17 with parental consent, according to WKRN…

There is no federal legislation in the United States regarding the minimum age for marriage, and states are allowed to set their own parameters. Currently, child marriage is legal in 44 states and nearly 300,000 children were married between 2000 and 2018 across the country, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

FRONTLINE data shows girls are more likely to get married than boys while still minors. Between 2000 and 2015, almost 90 percent of children who got married were girls and most were 16 or 17 years old. Children as young as 12 have been granted marriage licenses in South Carolina, Alaska and Louisiana, while 13-year-olds have been married in 14 states.

In the U.S., 44 states legally allow child marriages while the Philippines banned the practice in December. Only six states have banned child marriage, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York.

It might be useful, one of these centuries, to involve scientific study to set a range of parameters to serve as national guidelines for marriage. As it is, we’re stuck with state variations, regulations influenced by religions ranging from staid to nutball. Frankly, I see no concerted gathering of knowledgeable research having the slightest chance of altering these circumstances…in the United States.

Humor’s early days in children

Young children’s ability to laugh and make jokes has been mapped by age for the first time using data from a new study involving nearly 700 children from birth to 4 years of age, from around the world. The findings, led by University of Bristol researchers and published in Behavior Research Methods, identifies the earliest age humour emerges and how it typically builds in the first years of life…

The team found the earliest reported age that some children appreciated humour was 1 month, with an estimated 50% of children appreciating humour by 2 months, and 50% producing humour by 11 months. The team also show that once children produced humour, they produced it often, with half of children having joked in the last 3 hours.

Of the children surveyed, the team identified 21 different types of humour. Children under one year of age appreciated physical, visual and auditory forms of humour. This included hide and reveal games (e.g., peekaboo), tickling, funny faces, bodily humour (e.g., putting your head through your legs), funny voices and noises, chasing, and misusing objects (e.g., putting a cup on your head).

Dr Elena Hoicka, Associate Professor in Bristol’s School of Education and the study’s lead author, said: “Our results highlight that humour is a complex, developing process in the first four years of life. Given its universality and importance in so many aspects of children’s and adults’ lives, it is important that we develop tools to determine how humour first develops so that we can further understand not only the emergence of humour itself, but how humour may help young children function cognitively, socially, and in terms of mental health.

And laughter is the best medicine…someone first said long before we were born.

Revisiting the Marshmallow Test


Josie Garner

When kids “pass” the marshmallow test, are they simply better at self-control or is something else going on? A new UC San Diego study revisits the classic psychology experiment and reports that part of what may be at work is that children care more deeply than previously known what authority figures think of them.

In the marshmallow test, young children are given one marshmallow and told they can eat it right away or, if they wait a while, while nobody is watching, they can have two marshmallows instead. The half-century-old test is quite well-known. It’s entered everyday speech, and you may have chuckled at an online video or two in which children struggle adorably on hidden camera with the temptation of an immediate treat…

But the real reason the test is famous (and infamous) is because researchers have shown that the ability to wait – to delay gratification in order to get a bigger reward later – is associated with a range of positive life outcomes far down the line, including better stress tolerance and higher SAT scores…”Our new research suggests that in addition to measuring self-control, the task may also be measuring another important skill: awareness of what other people value.”

Interesting read. Understanding children and their changing values is useful stuff.

I guess.

Help children respond to the pandemic affecting their lives

For parents, helping children cope during the COVID-19 pandemic may be as simple as listening, Steven Marans argues.

Children are struggling with difficult issues, says Marans, a child and adult psychoanalyst at Yale University Medicine and chief of the Trauma Section at the Child Study Center…

In a year marked by COVID-19, discussions around racial justice, a crashing economy, and a divisive presidential election, he says parents need to first acknowledge their own emotions and stress reactions in order to be most attentive to their child’s responses to recent events.

“Then, if children are having ‘big feelings’—or showing signs of their distress—it’s an opportunity to hit the pause button and help them recognize and reflect on those feelings,” Marans says.

Not solutions to everything; but, a lot to offer about individual questions children will be asking themselves and the adults important to their lives.

Anti-Vaxxers defeated in New York

❝ Anti-vaccine advocates received a blow in New York Thursday as state lawmakers banned non-medical exemptions based on religious beliefs — and there may be more blows coming.

❝ Also on Thursday, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy to step up its fight against such non-medical exemptions. The AMA, the country’s largest physicians’ group and one of the largest spenders on lobbying, has always strongly support pediatric vaccination and opposed non-medical exemptions. But under the new policy changes, the association will now “actively advocate” for states to eliminate any laws that allow for non-medical exemptions.

Overdue. I don’t expect this to change folks who trust preachers over scientists; but, we all stand a better change of keeping children safer from preventable disease.