WESTFIELD, NJ — Members of Westfield High School’s Unchained At Last club are urging people to call Gov. Chris Christie’s office and tell him to sign a bill banning child marriage.

New Jersey may be the first state to outlaw marriage or civil union of people under the age of 18 if the bill, which has already passed in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly, is signed by Christie. He has until Thursday, May 11, to either veto or pass this bill, according to co-president of the club Dexter Cypress.

“Very little people know that nearly a quarter million children in the United States were married between the years 2000 and 2010,”Cypress said. “Specifically within Westfield High School, most people don’t realize that this is a prevalent issue that could happen to any of your friends, anybody you know, even in your own community.”

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Cypress has a script for people to use when they call: “Hello my name is [state your name] and I’m from Westfield, New Jersey, and I’m calling today to express my support for A3091 to end child marriage in New Jersey in its entirety.”

You can do this by calling Chris Christie’s office at 609-292-6000, he said.

“Westfield High School is the first chapter of Unchained at last in the nation,” Cypress said.  Club members include Cypress, Lauren Singer, Alana Payne, Emma Shakal, Katherine Pink, Charlotte Fountain-Jardim and Abby Rothenberg.

“We have a team very passionate members, including our adviser, Ms. Judy McLoughlin,” Cypress said. “We’re all very committed to this cause, and we’re very committed to raising awareness for it because very few people know how serious this topic is, and it’s so under publicized, so underexposed to mainstream media. Unchained at Last is the only organization of its kind in the nation dedicated to fighting against domestic forced child marriage.”

Visit unchainedatlast.org for more information on the organization, based here in Westfield.

Sarah Slavin is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.