In the News (2010 – 2014)


Top Sixteen Parenting Experts for the 21st Century!

Debbie Roffman was named to Time Magazine’s Top Sixteen Parenting Experts for the 21st Century in the article : “Sixteen Parenting Experts Worth Listening To”  May 28, 2014.

“Pornography, Children and Parents”

New York Times, “Pornography, Children and Parents”.  Debbie’s letter to the editor, responding to an article by David Segal, was published, April 6, 2014.


Deb Roffman, AKA ‘The Sex Lady’

“Meet Deb Roffman, AKA ‘The Sex Lady’ at Area Private Schools.”  Debbie was interviewed in Baltimore Fishbowl, October 23, 2013.

“Deborah Roffman isn’t afraid to talk to kids about sex. In fact, for the last 39 years she’s made a career of it, addressing lower and middle school students at Baltimore independent schools about the birds and the bees, but she never intended to gain a reputation for being “the sex lady,” as she is known among generations of graduates from area schools.

“Roffman, educator and author of several books, most recently Talk to Me First (Perseus Book Group), talked with Baltimore Fishbowl about how she became a sex education guru, what she blames on the inappropriate sexual behavior of today’s adolescents, and how parents can serve as their kids’ guide to sexuality, starting at age four.”

Sex and Teenage Sleepovers

Debbie joined an online videocast from Huffpost Live discussing “Sex and Teenage Sleepovers”, on August 16, 2013.

Teen Sexual Assault: Where Does the Conversation Start?

NPR All Things Considered, April 28, 2013. Deborah was on NPR’s All Things Considered, April 28, 2013, for a story on teen sexual assault and educating teens after Steubenville.

Leading Edge Educational Summit

St. Ann’s School of Annapolis, Maryland, April 11, 2013. Debbie appeared on the panel discussing research-based strategies for raising and educating intellectually, socially and emotionally healthy children; answering questions; and signing copies of her books at the Leading Edge Education Summit, sponsored by St. Anne’s School of Annapolis, Maryland, Thursday, April 11. Dr. JoAnn Deak and Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair joined Debbie on the panel.


The Dr. Don Show, October 2, 2012.  Debbie discusses her book, Talk to Me First, on the Dr. Don Show. Stream or download her interview here.

Changing the Narratives We Tell Ourselves About Talking to the Kids about Sex

Down With “The Talk”!: Changing the Narratives We Tell Ourselves About Talking to the Kids about Sex,   in The Huffington Post, (Part 1 of 4) September 25, 2012 (Part 2 of 4) October 1, 2012  (Part 3 of 4) October 3, 2012  (Part 4 of 4) October 8, 2012

Typically, adults project anxiety around the topic of sexuality in ways that are subtle and indirect–for instance, hardly anyone ever says, “Boy, talking about this stuff really makes me feel anxious!” When an adult grimaces, tenses up, stammers, evades or changes the subject, or abruptly goes rigid and silent with no explanation, children can only try to guess at the cause. If the threat and confusion persist long enough, or feels severe enough, it can foster in kids a pernicious and even dread (there’s that word again) sense that something in the family just isn’t quite right. And, once he or she figures out that the subject causing all this trepidation is “sex,” the “talking-in-the-family-about-sex-equals-danger-and-threat” association is set. It’s also a set-up, since uncorrected and unchallenged belief systems, based in unresolved anxiety from childhood, can and often do emerge almost instinctively in adulthood when the child becomes the parent.

Part 1 of 4. Down With “The Talk”!: Changing the Narratives We Tell Ourselves About Talking to the Kids about Sex. Huffington Post, September 25, 2012.

Part 2 of 4. Down With “The Talk”!: Reclaiming Our Common Sense About Sex. Huffington Post, October 1, 2012

Part 3 of 4. Down With “The Talk”!: “Where Did I Come From?” Is Not a Question About Sex , Huffington Post, October 3, 2012

Part 4 of 4, Down With “The Talk”!: What Would a New Paradigm Look and Feel Like?, October 8, 2012

 The NLP View Radio Show, on, with host, Donna Blinston, September 29, 2012.  Debbie is interviewed by Donna Blinston on the NLP View Radio Show. 

“Is this the year to have “The Talk”?

“Is this the year to have “The Talk”?  Janice D’Arcy in the Washington Post, September 3, 2012

A new school year brings a new social dynamic for kids, along with the ever-present question for parents: Is this the grade when we should have “The Talk”?   According to a new book on the subject of parents and sex ed, that talk may probably be long overdue.

Carolyn Hax in the Washington Post,  August 14, 2012 .  Read about Debbie’s work in Carolyn Hax’s August 14, 2012 column in the Washington Post

Dresser After Dark – Michael Dresser – Syndicated radio talk – August 15, 2012 – Interview with Deborah Roffman. Listen to the interview here.

Changes in child and adolescent sexuality

‘The Sex Lady’ offers lessons for parents: A Baltimore teacher explores changes in child and adolescent sexuality. Susan Reimer in The Baltimore Sun, August 13, 2012.

Baltimore’s school children call her “The Sex Lady,” and during the four decades Deborah Roffman has taught them about their bodies, the only thing that hasn’t changed is the discomfort of their parents when they try to talk about sex.

Ms. Roffman has published a new book with the goal of getting parents back inside, back on top, and it includes the lessons she has learned from her best teachers — the kids.

Titled “Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ ‘Go To Person’ About Sex,” she employs the fundamental elements of parenting — affirmation, information, clarity about values, limits and guidance — and applies them to a child’s developing sexuality.

The 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to Teens About Sex

Parade Magazine: The 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to Teens About Sex, August 9, 2012

It’s the conversation topic every parent dreads. But just because you’re anxious and embarrassed doesn’t mean you can’t still be a good resource for your kids, says sexuality educator Deborah Roffman, author of the new book, Talk To Me First. Here, Roffman shares a few of her do’s and don’ts when it comes to talking to tweens and teens about s-e-x.

Fox 5 Television Morning Show, Washington DC, August 8, 2012Debbie was interviewed on the Fox5 Television Morning Show in Washington DC, August 8, 2012. Watch it here. (Click the link, then click the Talk To Me First thumbnail.)



Do’s and Don’ts: Who, what, where, when, why, and how to talk sex with your child

Teaching Your Kids About Sex: Do’s and Don’ts: Who, what, where, when, why, and how to talk sex with your child,  Rachel Pomerance,  U.S.News & World Report August 3, 2012. Debbie was interviewed and quoted extensively in U.S.News & World Report.

“For many of us, “the talk” went something like this: Mom and/or Dad sat you down at the age of, say, 12, announcing, amid sighs and seat shifting, that it’s time to learn about “the birds and the bees.” The conversation takes about two minutes because everyone’s so uncomfortable (remember, you’re in puberty, so you pretty much exist in a state of discomfort.) Mom and/or Dad may explain, in bizarrely unsexy terms, the physical mechanics that happen between two loving adults, and then leave you with an approximate nanosecond for questions. “Ok, I think that went well,” Mom and/or Dad may say to you, each other, or themselves, after another major exhale. The end.

“What’s wrong with this picture? Um, all of it. It’s no one’s fault, really. We’re left with a centuries-old legacy that has made sex taboo, says Deborah Roffman, teen sexuality expert and author of Talk To Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person About Sex. However, kids who grow up in families where sexuality is openly discussed are not just healthier and happier, but they also postpone participation in a range of risky behaviors including sexual activity, Roffman says. “Talking with your kids is protective … a buffer against what goes on around them.”

Parents Magazine, Kara Corridan, “Forget Chicken Chains. Here’s a Child’s Take On Gay Marriage”. Debbie was interviewed by Parents Magazine and quoted in Kara Corridan’s blog on August 3, 2012.

The Birds and the Bees: What to Say to Kids

Interview: Life Goes Strong: “The Birds and the Bees: What to Say to Kids.” Debbie’s interview with the NBC-owned site Life Goes Strong has been published, August 2, 2012: “The Birds and the Bees: What to Say to Kids.”  

How to talk to your kids about sex

Interview: KPCC Los Angeles: “How to talk to your kids about sex”. Deborah Roffman was interviewed for the “Madeleine Brand Show” on KPCC radio, Los Angeles (NPR Affiliate). The interview aired on July 27, 2012.

“There’s a reason that it’s known as THE TALK. It’s perhaps one of the most important conversations a parent can have with a child. It’s also one of the most daunting. The sex talk strikes a deep fear in many moms and dads, but it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s what Deborah Roffman argues in her new called “Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person about Sex.”

“In our latest installment of our Parenting On The Edge series, Alex Cohen talks to Roffman about why so many parents are afraid to talk to their kids about sex. They also talk about when the most appropriate time to talk to your child about sex is, and why and how you’d want to broach the topic with them in the first place.”

Talking with Your Kids About Sexual Abuse: Questions the Sandusky Trial Prompted Me to Ask

Deborah Roffman is referenced extensively by Martha Kempner is this article.

Full article:  Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check, July 1, 2012.   Here is an excerpt. 

“Recently, when my almost-six-year-old daughter and I arrived at her dentist’s office she went right to the obligatory waiting room aquarium and I began to watch CNN’s coverage of the Jerry Sandusky trial. A few minutes later she sat down next to me and tested her ability to sound out words by reading his name off the bottom of the screen. Just when it occurred to me that she might read the next line —“sex abuse trial”— and ask me what it meant, the receptionist let out a little gasp and quickly turned to Nickelodeon.

“I am relatively comfortable talking about sex with my daughter (I am after all a trained sexuality educator). We’ve recently discussed fertilized versus unfertilized eggs (in answer to a question about why the eggs we were eating were never going to be chickens), sonograms and fetal development (in answer to a question about what you make bones out of), and kissing (in response to something she was watching on, well, Nickelodeon).  But sexual abuse is a tricky one and it gave me pause. I want her to be safe and informed but not scared of adults or sex and like many parents I was worried that I might say the wrong thing.

“In light of the Sandusky trial, ongoing revelations about Catholic Churches around the country, and the recent New York Times Magazine story on Horace Mann, I thought it might be a good idea to check in with some experts about how to discuss sexual abuse with children of all ages.

“First I spoke to Steve Brown, PsyD. who is the director of the Traumatic Stress Institute of Klingberg Family Centers and a former board member of Stop it Now. I also spoke to Deborah Roffman a sexuality educator whose third book, Talk to Me First, Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ Go to Person About Sex, is set to hit bookstores this summer.”

Abstinence Only

Abstinence Only: La Psychose Americain du Sexe. Delphine Roucate, LeMonde (France) July 6, 2012

Excerpt [Translation Google]: “In a post entitled ” The Puritans are Dead: Long Live the Puritans? ” [The Puritans are dead: long live the Puritans?], Deborah M. Roffman, professor sex education for forty years, laments that young Americans have TODAY ‘ Today access to sex education “embedded in the XVII th century ” . Yet, “despite what the majority of Americans believe the Puritans were not anti-sex ‘or sexually’ repressed ‘, she says . In fact, they had a very healthy respect for sexuality. (…) But what they disapproved, it was the public discourse on sexuality. “


Talking to Your Kids About Sex

Talking to Your Kids About Sex: Deborah Roffman Offers Parents Advice, Make It Better. By Laura Hine. January 2010

[Roffman] gave the audience 5 nurturing behaviors that parents can use when talking about sex:

  1. Affirmation: Unconditional love and acceptance. You show that by listening to your child’s questions
  2. Information: Given in an age-appropriate way.
  3. Clarity about Values: Name the values you want your child to have in a relationship—honesty, respect, safety were a few the audience contributed. When you see something that doesn’t uphold those values (commercial, television show, music video) point it out to your child. Be your child’s cultural interpreter.
  4. Limit Setting: Tweens and teens want and need limits. It’s your job to set reasonable boundaries to keep your child safe.
  5. Anticipatory Guidance: “What if . . .” conversations help kids problem solve and think through situations they may face.

The Five Core Needs of Children and Adolescents

Parenting is a Five-Piece Suit

“Here’s what good parents instinctively know: Children and adolescents—at all ages and stages!—have the same five universal, developmentally based needs. While the content of these needs shifts dramatically as children grow and mature, the basic needs remain constant from cradle to career or college. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of each:

Affirmation: Children and adolescents need adults to recognize and validate their particular stage of (sexual) development.

Information: Children and adolescents need factual knowledge and concepts (about sexuality), presented in ongoing and age-appropriate ways.

Values Clarification: Children and adolescents need adults to share their values (about sexuality) and to clarify and interpret competing values and values systems (about sexuality) in the surrounding culture.

Limit Setting: Children and adolescents need adults to create a healthy and safe (sexual) environment by stating and reinforcing age-appropriate (sexual) rules and limits.

Anticipatory Guidance: Children and adolescents need adults to help them learn how to avoid or handle potentially harmful (sexual) situations, and to prepare them for times when they will need to rely on themselves to make responsible and healthy (sexual) choices.

This Five Needs Paradigm makes it clear that sexuality is simply another aspect of life and human development, not a “special” topic that needs to be “kept from the kids” until they’re older. It also makes the case that if children have five fundamental needs, then parents have five fundamental roles: affirmer, information giver, values clarifier, limit setter, and guide.”

 “Teen Sexuality: Sex as Sport and Girls as Game” in Huffington Post, June 22, 2010

Sexuality Education: A New Look at Old Paradigms

Sexuality Education: A New Look at Old Paradigms. Independent School Magazine, Summer, 2010, Guest Editor

Full contents

Making Meaning and Finding Morality in a Sexualized World

Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Sex and Intimacy, Elliott Dorff and Danya Ruttenberg, Eds., The Jewish Publication Society, 2010

Books can be ordered directly from The Jewish Publication Society

The Puritans are Dead: Long Live the Puritans?

Huffington Post, February 18, 2010

“The time has come to face an embarrassing truth, America: It’s 2010 now, and sex education in the United States is still rooted in the early 17th Century.”

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