Marriage Resurgent

Among Nation's Teens

The number of married teenagers surged nearly 50 percent during the 1990s, reversing a decades-long decline.

Marriage remains fairly uncommon in this age group -- only 4.5 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds were hitched in 2000 -- but researchers were nonetheless surprised by the increase reported by the Census Bureau.

David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, which studies marriage trends and ways to strengthen marriage, offered several possible reasons.

"There's been a slight trend toward conservatism among teens, less premarital sex, more fear of disease," he said. "It could conceivably have something to do with welfare reform. But it's a surprise."

This generation of teenagers is the first to live their whole lives with AIDS as a major public health concern. Some counselors suggested wedded teenagers are taking to heart the "abstinence until marriage" theme projected by some sex education classes.

Regardless, the trend runs counter to what's happening among all Americans, who generally are waiting longer to get married. For men, the median age of first marriage was 26.8 in 2000, up from 26.1 in 1990 and 22.8 in 1950. Among women, the median age was 25.1 in 2000, up from 23.9 in 1990 and 20.3 in 1950.

There were 891,000 married 15- to 19-year-olds in 2000, up from 598,000 in 1990, when married teenagers comprised 3.4 percent of all 15- to 19-year-olds. The increase came after a steady decline since 1950.

Colombian Accused

Of Money Laundering

MIAMI -- Federal prosecutors accused a Colombian business executive of laundering more than $1 million a month for a terrorist group in his homeland.

Libardo Florez-Gomez has been jailed without bond since he was stopped Oct. 22 with $178,000 in euros at Miami International Airport and charged with lacking a proper license to transfer money.

"He is a supporter and lifeblood of [a] designated terrorist organization," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Schlesinger said during a bond hearing. He did not identify the terrorist organization.

Florez-Gomez's attorney, Joaquin Perez, said his client was innocent and that the government had no evidence of money laundering. "This guy has nothing to do with terrorism," he said.

* FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A mildly retarded teenager was sentenced to three years in prison for the drowning of an autistic 5-year-old who prosecutors say was shoved into a canal and left to die. Prosecutors said Gorman Roberts, 18, who was convicted of manslaughter in February, laughed as the boy, Jordan Payne, died in the weed-filled waterway not far from his father's home in Pompano Beach.

* ORLANDO -- A judge told the daughter of Gov. Jeb Bush (R) that she was "on track" with drug treatment two weeks after being released from jail. Noelle Bush, 25, made her first appearance before Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead yesterday since serving a 10-day sentence for violating the terms of her treatment program.

-- From News Services