While many college students spend their summers relaxing at the beach with friends, Huntington’s Max Robins and his friends are spending their summer enacting real change against child marriages.
After launching ‘Students Against Child Marriages’ just recently, they have already gained hundreds of followers and activists alike. They are the first student-organized nonprofit working to end American child marriages.
Max was first exposed to the reality of child marriages in the United States in high school where he read a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof. The more he read, the more he realized the reality that the United States has a child marriage problem. He thought that it couldn’t possible. “206 children are married across the United States everyday. We can make it zero,” he said.
While this idea sat in the back of his mind, American University fostered and cultivated research and he decided to do something about it. As a student, he saw the potential for real change to be enacted by a group of people with drive and ambition to make the world a better place. Max serves as founder and executive director of the organization alongside 14 fellow students.
Movements that have sanctioned change in the past such as “March For Our Lives” have been student led. “There is no reason why students can’t be engaged in the millions,” Robins said. They are always looking for new members to join their team, as well as students wanting to start their own chapter. With about a dozen new chapters launching shortly, they have engaged hundreds of students in the fight against child marriages.
Robins acknowledges he does not want to take up any space where other legislation needs change, but he notes that Students Against Child Marriages’ momentum and progress also must continue. The increase in granting of marriage licenses and the difficulty in divorce proceedings is not lost on the organization.
Delaware was the first state to outlaw marriages under 18, even with parental consent. New Jersey later followed. When children are married as minors, their legal rights are turned over to their spouse. This promotes cyclical abuse and difficulty in removing oneself from the situation.
“Plain and simple, it’s 2020, America should not have a child marriage crisis,” Robins said. While he has tremendous optimism about their growth and outreach, he acknowledges the country has a long way to go. “If we can save one girl, then we’re a success. It’s about making sure no girl needs to experience the tragedy these girls do their whole life,” Robins said.