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Laura Stepp
Laura Sessions Stepp is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, formerly with The Washington Post, who specializes in the coverage of young people. She has written two well-received books: Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, and Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children through Early Adolescence. Her work has appeared in publications such as Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Parent, Child, Working Mother, Reader’s Digest, and Nieman Reports of Harvard University. She currently consults for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, where she is a senior media fellow.

A frequent public speaker around the country, Stepp also has appeared on numerous TV shows including The Today Show and Nightline. She served as a member of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Healthy People 2000 Panel on Adolescence and sits on the board of advisors of the Journalism Center for Children and Families at the University of Maryland. She has twice been a visiting scholar at the Board on Children, Youth and Families, a program of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. She is married and has three grown children.

Entries by Laura Stepp

Employer-Based Birth Control Coverage Is Smart and Right

(13) Comments | Posted March 11, 2014 | 12:25 PM

"No American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition."

-President Richard Nixon, who in 1970 signed into law Title X, a federal grant program to provide family planning for low-income women

For once, I agree with the former Republican...

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A Tricky Skate: Raising Talented Children

(2) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 2:55 PM

When Olympic skeleton driver Noelle Pikus-Pace zoomed face-down on her sled to the finish line of a frozen track, then realized her time was fast enough to win a silver medal, she blew off reporters, photographers and microphones. She had to find her family first -- her husband, two daughters,...

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Has MTV Helped Bring Down Teen Pregnancy Rate?

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2014 | 11:56 AM

Bring up the subject of teen pregnancy at a cocktail party and three things are likely to happen.

1) Any men hanging around will vanish on the pretext of getting another Scotch.
2) Among the women, one will shake her head over how many more "babies" are having "babies"...

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Teen Pregnancies Are Declining -- Why Don't Adults Believe That?

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 8:59 AM

Here's the good news: Proportionately fewer teenagers are getting pregnant in this country than at any time since the government started collecting statistics in the 1940s, according to data reported last week.

Now here's the bad news. Adults don't believe it, according to figures released by The National...

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Thanks, Birth Control

(634) Comments | Posted November 12, 2013 | 9:43 AM

I recently had the opportunity to discuss work-life issues with a dozen middle-class mothers, mostly in their 30s, who live in northern Virginia. Almost all are employed outside the home, their occupations ranging from emergency medical technician to engineer.

In the community room of a local church, they talked...

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Call Parents 'Mom' or 'Dad.' Period.

(3) Comments | Posted October 24, 2013 | 6:40 PM

It's time to get rid of phrases such as, "stay-at-home dad" and "working mother." As gender roles have expanded, these expressions, and the ideas behind them, confine, more than define, the complex lives of today's parents. The words mom and dad -- or variations thereof -- are all we need....

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N.C. Bill Will Discourage Sexually Active Teens From Using Birth Control

(13) Comments | Posted May 8, 2013 | 2:02 PM

"Too good to check." That's the phrase I and my colleagues at the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina would use jokingly years ago to describe a story for the next day's newspaper that was bizarre, outrageous or both. We were never at a loss to find such items, particularly among...

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Americans Schizophrenic When It Comes to Marriage and Families

(16) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 11:28 AM

When it comes to marriages and families, Americans can be disturbingly schizophrenic.

Consider this: Increasingly, 20- and 30-something young women and young men are living together but staying away from the altar. They're also having babies. Taken together, these trends, which show no signs of weakening, can be harmful...

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Ordinary Americans May Know Best

(6) Comments | Posted January 3, 2013 | 4:32 PM

As we move into a new year, it is reassuring to be reminded that rank-and-file Americans are a caring and practical people, sometimes more so than those elected or appointed to lead them.

Two examples stand out in 2012, both vital to the well-being of children.

One is the groundswell...

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Trash Talk in Political Campaign Helps No One

(0) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 5:57 PM

As the political conversation gets nastier and nastier, you have to wonder, did we do right to tell our children when they got upset to "Use your words, not your fists"?

Maybe we should rethink that. Maybe we should scrounge up boxing gloves for Republican Rep Todd Akin who coined...

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Where Are Moderate GOP Voices in Debate Over Abortion and Birth Control?

(0) Comments | Posted August 23, 2012 | 6:42 PM

So let me get this right. GOP lawmakers want to deny millions of women access to affordable birth control by eliminating federal funding of Planned Parenthood. And if any woman has an unplanned pregnancy, they hope to make it illegal for her to have an abortion, even if the pregnancy...

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Olympic Champions and Birth Control

(17) Comments | Posted August 14, 2012 | 9:44 PM

I just returned from the summer Olympics wishing this: If only a female U.S. medalist had appeared on TV and said, "I want to thank Mom, Dad, my coach... and my IUD."

I'm kidding. Sort of.

American female athletes gave an amazing performance in this year's Games. They outnumbered American...

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Anne-Marie Slaughter and the Problems of a Good Life

(1) Comments | Posted July 23, 2012 | 2:05 PM

Some years ago, my sister Kathy coined a phrase that I've been thinking about during the extraordinary debate among women prompted by Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter's article in The Atlantic, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All."
Kathy, a divorced, single mom, had started a non-profit network...

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A Father's Day May Be About Mom as Well

(7) Comments | Posted June 15, 2012 | 5:47 PM

Many things can keep men who have children from being fathers.

Engaged fathers, that is.

Maybe they're divorced and their ex-wives have full custody and live thousands of miles away. Maybe they had a child with a girlfriend, the relationship fell apart and they split. Maybe they're in prison....

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No One Solution to Reducing Teen Pregnancy

(5) Comments | Posted May 22, 2012 | 1:28 PM

Why do so many people these days insist on seeing complicated issues only in the simplest of terms?

An example is last week's column about teen mothers on Business reporter Matthew Yglesias argued that low-income teen moms aren't poor because they have babies to take care...

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Fox's Glee Is Not Fun Anymore

(43) Comments | Posted May 11, 2012 | 4:28 PM

Glee is losing me.

Once upon a time, Fox Network's musical take on a high school show choir was funny and poignant. Now, as its third season winds up, it has evolved into a string of Sunday sermons accompanied by the voices of Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and...

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War Horse: More Than A Tale of a Horse

(5) Comments | Posted January 26, 2012 | 2:02 PM

To those who roll their eyes at the movie War Horse being nominated this week for a Best Picture Academy Award, let me say this: The movie is not, as some of those who haven't seen it suggest, just another sentimental story about a boy and his horse. It is...

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Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

(68) Comments | Posted December 25, 2011 | 12:30 PM

If you're about to become a grandparent, there are all kinds of things you need to know about grandbabysitting.

Babies should sleep on their backs, not their stomachs, grandparents-to-be learned recently in a class just for them at a northern Virginia hospital. Drop-side cribs are a no-no. When bathing the...

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In Contraception Battle, Teen Girls Are Ones Who Lose

(1) Comments | Posted December 15, 2011 | 12:06 PM

Once again, teenage girls are pawns in a political battle that is only partly about them.

I'm talking about the unfortunate decision of the Obama administration to continue to require emergency contraception be sold only behind the pharmacy counter and, for girls 16 and younger, only with a doctor's...

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Parents, Teens and Sex: An Ongoing Conversation

(2) Comments | Posted November 22, 2011 | 3:42 PM

When the good news surfaced last week that the birth rate of teenage girls had fallen substantially -- for the third year in a row -- to its lowest level ever, three reasons came immediately to mind.

One, fewer girls are having sex and those who are,...

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