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Laura Stepp
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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

The Story Behind Baby Showers for Teen Latino Parents

(17) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 2:26 PM

Before a baby is born to a Latino couple these days, the baby's parents or grandparents often throw a baby shower inviting relatives, friends and neighbors. It's not unusual for the number of guests to reach 60 or more. This celebration often takes place regardless of how young the parents...

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Well-Known Scholar Says Planned Births, Not Marriage, Top Priority for Child Well-Being

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 9:30 PM

Isabel Sawhill, an expert in poverty and fiscal policy, has long championed the idea that couples should marry before having children. As recently as May 2012, she wrote a piece in The Washington Post supporting former Vice President Dan Quayle's remark in 1992 that TV single mom Murphy...

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Knowing What You Don't Want

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2014 | 11:18 AM

People these days tend to stew over what they want, be it personal or professional. And why wouldn't they? There are so many choices and so many places to search them out. Dating websites are now a $2 billion industry, according to the marketing research firm IBISWORLD. Job...

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Do Big Weddings Make Good Marriages?

(3) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 9:56 AM

A five-feet-tall wedding cake made for 550 people in Palm Beach. Drones engaged to snap wedding photos from the air in Israel. An average of $25,000 spent on weddings in New Zealand, of all places. Roll your eyes at these recent reports of big weddings - I know I do...

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What's Up With Young People and Virginity? Not What You Think

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 8:53 PM

Here's a shocker: Virginity is cooler than it used to be among teens and young adults. At least that's what entertainment giant MTV, creator of Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, is hoping as it aired this week the first of a series called Virgin Territory featuring 15...

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Hey Men, When It Comes to Sex, Why Risk a Sweet Deal?

(1) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 3:59 PM

For those of us who came of age in the 1960s and '70s, contraception was something you might use, but rarely talked about. What method you preferred, or what happened when a method failed or you forgot to use it, were not the stuff of public conversation, particularly with men....

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Reduce Early Fathering? Teach Men About Birth Control

(0) Comments | Posted June 14, 2014 | 5:23 PM

Fatherhood is a big business these days, but it's missing an important piece.

I looked up "Father's Day" on the Hallmark card website and found 88 cards for Dad, 60 gifts and two "keepsake ornaments": a Harley-Davidson motorcycle figure and a Return of the Jedi Scout Trooper. (I know,...

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Losing an Incidental Friend

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 5:29 PM

I lost a friend on Memorial Day. Driving home alone, she pulled her car over to the side of the road and died of a heart attack. Mary McBride, a history teacher and high school administrator, was what that bard of friendship, Ralph Waldo Emerson, would have called an incidental...

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Living Together: Good for Some, Not So Much for Others

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2014 | 12:10 PM

Headlines trumpeted the news: "Co-habitation doesn't cause divorce!" (Live Science) "Best predictor of divorce? Age when couples cohabit" (Christian Science Monitor) "Call your dad: Living Together Before Marriage Does Not Lead to Divorce" (Slate).

All three statements are true for the one-third of...

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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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