Accessibility links

Breaking News

Child Marriage: Kathleen's Story

((Banner: Child Marriage: Kathleen))
((Reporter: Carolyn Presutti))
((Camera: Mike Burke))
((Edited by: Phil Dierking))
((Map: Dyersburg, Tennessee))

((Kathleen Burns, Dyersburg, Tennessee))
Kathleen Burns. I live in Dyersburg, Tennessee. I work all the time, take care of my baby and the husband, hang out with my buddies. That’s about it.

Well, I met him about, when I was like, 13, 14. They lived next door to me and hung out with his family and his friends or his sisters and I don't know, we just, kind of, started becoming friends, and I got attached to him. I probably had a little crush, you know what I’m saying? And he couldn't ever keep a girlfriend because they didn't like me being around him. So, one thing after another. After a few years, we just, kind of, ended up together. ((NATS))
I got pregnant underage and that was, kind of, what had us go ahead and get married so I wouldn't send him to jail. A lot of people looked down on him for it and stuff. That's, kind of, why he didn't want to do this at first, you know, but, like I told him, I don't care what anybody thinks. I love him, you know. It is what it is.

I mean, we're like any other married couple. We’ve had our problems. I mean, we split up. I went and stayed with him for a little bit, but we just know we want to live with each other. We want to be with each other, you know what I mean? So, we worked through our problems. I couldn't live without him.

My mom was against it. She was like, you know, ‘Y’all shouldn’t have done it. You can take your consequences for it.’ Me and my mom ended up having a lot of problems, you know, but she stuck by me through everything, so I love that woman to death.

Head cook at Neil's Barbecue. I just, kind of, stuck around, you know, stayed unlike everybody else and he just kept moving me up, giving me raises, so I stayed there.

I did not graduate. After I had Zena, got hard to get a babysitter and stuff. I needed money. Candice got me the job. I just dropped out, and they, kind of, just let me slip through the cracks. ((NATS)) I made it to 11th grade and I had one more year, should have finished it out honestly. I regret that every day. Eventually I'll get my GED, but grown-up life is really hard, so, you know.

Well, before I married, honestly, I was a kid. So, there was really no bills. I don't really miss nothing about it, except just having to grow up and do the adult thing. Man, it's hard. It is hard, but other than that, I don't really miss nothing, you know. I'm fine with how everything turned out with me.

Zena, my little girl, she is my pride and joy, and I will do everything to take care of her and protect her, so. My mom always asks me if I would let her get with somebody older. No, I probably won't, because, you know, we did have a lot of issues through our, I mean, it put me through a lot, mentally and physically, and uh-uh, I would not let my daughter do that. And probably marrying young. Yeah, no. It'd be a no just 'cause I know where I'm at right now from making them decisions. I don't know, I mean, I should have waited. I truly believe that. I should have waited, but things came up. I should have waited on having the baby, you know, because you really do need to be 18, in my opinion. You need to be grown up. You need to have your childhood. I lost all of my childhood.

I do regret, you know, not finishing school, growing up way too fast. You know, that's just stuff you shouldn't do when you're a kid, honestly. I see that all now. I didn't see it then, though, so, and you can't change it.