Which Missouri counties have the most 15-year-old brides?

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Missouri’s child brides

This state has the most lenient law in the nation for 15-year-old brides. Some may have even married their rapists.

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Drum roll, please. The honor — dubious at best — as the No. 1 county in Missouri for marriages of 15-year-olds goes to:

Kansas City’s Jackson County, with 64 between 1999 and 2015.

Like Jackson County, almost all of Missouri’s hot spots for 15-year-olds to wed are along the state’s borders. Neighboring states all have stricter laws regarding the marriage of 15-year-olds, so Missouri is a draw for them to cross over and wed.

The prime regions include the four counties in Missouri’s southwest corner (118 marriages), three counties in the southeast Bootheel (114 marriages), the Kansas City area’s four counties (93 marriages) and a combination of St. Louis County and St. Louis City (90 marriages).

After Jackson County, the next 10 hot-spot counties in the state are:

Dunklin County (in the Bootheel): 60

Jasper County (includes Joplin): 51

St. Louis County: 50

Pemiscot County (Bootheel): 44

St. Louis City: 40

Taney County (Branson): 38

Green County (Springfield): 36

Howell County (east of Branson): 25

Cape Girardeau County (in southeast Missouri) tied with Newton County (near Joplin): 24 each.

The numbers come from data collected by the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services for the years 1999 to 2015.

Eric Adler: 816-234-4431, @eadler