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Official Deplores O.C. Teen Weddings

September 11, 1996

The director of the state Department of Social Services called on Orange County social workers and Juvenile Court judges Tuesday to halt the practice of helping some pregnant teenagers under the county's protection marry the adult men who had sex with them.

"I don't know how we accept these relationships under any condition," Director Eloise Anderson said in an interview. "We need to stop that."

Anderson said the girls should be separated from the men who impregnated them, receive intensive counseling and be encouraged to give their babies up for adoption.

"I don't believe that Orange County has paid attention to the children's interests--both the [teenage] mother and the infant," she said.

Girls under the age of 18 are not mature enough emotionally or "cognitively" to decide whether to become a spouse and a parent, Anderson said. Furthermore, the men should be prosecuted for unlawful sex with a minor or for child abuse, she said, depending on the circumstances.

The director of the Orange County Social Services Agency has said that his agency has "accommodated" some such marriages in the belief that they were preferable to placing the girls and their unborn children in foster homes. Over the past two years, about 15 girls have been allowed to marry or resume living with the adults who had impregnated them.

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