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June 7, 2024

An Epidemic of Loneliness in the Age of Boundaries

Social media features a different viral villain every day. If we’re lucky, he or she tells us something about ourselves. In just such a case, a man named Marcus Shepard got more than 12 million views on his post bragging of a breakup with a friend with whom he hadn’t had “meaningful offline contact in almost…

May 13, 2024

Do Mothers Have “Societal Support”? Does It Count if It Comes from Neighbors?

It is an annual tradition, for some reason, for folks on social media to dump all over Mother’s Day. Some on the fringe decide it’s sexist or cisnormative or something to believe only women can be mothers or that mothers are special. The abortion lobby hates the idea that womanhood is associated with motherhood. But last year, I stumbled across an anti-Mother’s…

May 2, 2024

A New Lost Generation: Disengaged, Aimless, and Adrift

More than a quarter of America’s school-aged children were absent from school 10 percent or more of the time last year. There’s no shortage of explanations on offer for this surge in “chronic absenteeism,” mostly blaming the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath: lockdowns; lowered expectation; health and hardship; bullying and school safety issues. Remote learning…

March 27, 2024

Narcan Babies

“As medical professionals who work with pregnant patients, you face numerous medical, legal, and ethical decision points when treating a patient for substance use during pregnancy, and when providing care to a neonate with drug or alcohol exposure.” So begins a pamphlet of advice for doctors and nurses that discourages them from reporting mothers for substance abuse…

March 12, 2024

Family Dinners Offer a Silver Lining in a Bleak Social Capital Landscape

Across a variety of indicators, social capital in America is deteriorating. But one trend appears to be cutting across conventional wisdom—gathering the family around the dinner table. Dinners offer an especially valuable chance for family members to come together and share the day’s highs and lows; discuss personal issues, current events, and big questions of…

December 19, 2023

Sins of Omission: Public Broadcasting Fails to Reach a Broad Cross-Section of America

Increasing numbers of Americans get their news from Facebook and Apple but nonetheless, every day, six American television networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN and PBS — continue to broadcast a nightly newscast. Only one of these, however, is subsidized by taxpayers. The PBS NewsHour receives direct annual support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB); it…

October 23, 2023

Teach Your Children Well

A few years ago, David Brooks wrote a column in which he took a friend without a high school degree to a sandwich shop. “Suddenly,” he recounted, “I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named ‘Padrino’ and ‘Pomodoro’ and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked…

September 21, 2023

How Health Privacy Laws Are Hurting College Students and Their Families

In the midst of all our discussions about what is causing the youth mental health crisis, it might be worth examining the public policies that are making it worse. One such policy is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or at least colleges’ interpretation of that law.  A recent article in The New York Times documented the…

September 17, 2023

Tracking ‘two-parent privilege’ in Utah

Utah was just acknowledged by WalletHub as the happiest state in the nation, and it’s no secret that Utah leads many state performance rankings in America. From the economy — including growth, a favorable business climate, work environment and economic mobility — to life satisfaction, Beehive State residents enjoy enviable levels of success. What’s the key to…

August 10, 2023

The Real Reason People Leave Religion

More than a decade ago, the Pew Research Center released a path-breaking study on people without religion: “Nones” on the Rise. At the time, I was in graduate school studying political science and working full-time as a pollster. Partly inspired by this work, I wrote my dissertation exploring why people leave religion: “And Then There Were Nones:…