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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

Millennials Value Birth Control, So Why Aren't More Using It?

(11) Comments | Posted May 27, 2015 | 3:25 PM

Attention, those of you who think teenagers are responsible for most of the unplanned pregnancies and births in this country.

You're wrong. Way wrong. Among teens ages 15 to 19, pregnancies (about 85 percent of which are unplanned) and births are at their lowest rates ever. The teen pregnancy...

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Young Republicans Support Affordable Birth Control

(3) Comments | Posted March 31, 2015 | 10:06 AM

Here's some good news amidst the furor over some congressional Republicans' angst about contraception and, for others, opposition to public funding of contraception: Almost two out of three younger Republicans say every adult woman should have access to affordable, effective birth control.

Why do they say that? Because they realize...

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Republicans' Curious Ideas About Contraception

(134) Comments | Posted February 15, 2015 | 3:35 PM

Trying to follow the logic of certain Republican lawmakers in Congress can make one feel a bit like Alice on a visit to Wonderland. I am hardly the first to suggest the general comparison, but it strikes me as particularly appropriate when it comes to their opposition to making contraception...

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Americans Are Getting Smarter About Teen Pregnancy

(6) Comments | Posted January 15, 2015 | 10:42 AM

You've got to give credit to ordinary Americans. They're frequently more sensible about hot-button issues than are the officeholders elected to serve them. One recent example? Preventing teen pregnancy.

In a nationally representative telephone survey released this week, a large majority of adults 18 and older said they...

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Parents: Next Year, Keep Christmas in Christmas Cards

(9) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 3:59 PM

I stopped by the office of a work colleague this week to wish her a happy new year. Almost immediately, her conversation turned to Christmas cards. She was particularly roiled by the multitude of greetings she had received from friends whose cards displayed only pictures of their children and grandchildren...

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Competent, Caring Staff Crucial to Program Success

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2014 | 5:04 PM

Among the hundreds of programs that scholar Ron Haskins examined for his persuasive new book on social policy, one stands out in his mind: a home visiting initiative in Texas that sends nurses to visit teenage girls who are pregnant or new mothers. In this program, the nurses...

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A Birth Control Champion You've Probably Never Heard Of

(0) Comments | Posted November 11, 2014 | 12:21 PM

Feeling gratitude is a rather old-fashioned concept these days. We're too busy, too tired, perhaps too annoyed, to take a moment and realize how fortunate we are. And to say thank you.

There are many things I am grateful for -- my family, my friends, the fact that I...

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The Story Behind Baby Showers for Teen Latino Parents

(18) 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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