Articles by Deborah Roffman
Many consider Deborah Roffman’s articles during 2001 through 2009 to be classics in the field. This is a selection.
What Does ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Really Mean?
Deborah Roffman in The Washington Post, February 5, 2006
“We need to let boys know that, in the sexual and social arenas, we’ve been shortchanging them by setting the bar so low. We need to explain why the notion that “boys will be boys” embodies a bogus and ultimately corrupting set of expectations that are unacceptable.”
They’ll Abstain If They’re Given Good Reasons
Debbie Roffman in The Washington Post, December 12, 2004
“If 30 years of experience in this field has taught me one thing, it is that when talking with our children about sex, we need to make sure that we educate rather than dictate and that our approach is based on scientific evidence.”
“Separation of Church and School”
Debbie Roffman, Education Week, February 24, 2004
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” The issue of homosexuality and schooling is potentially a huge win-win for any community bold enough to tackle it head-on. A successful journey begins with clarity about the role of schools in children’s lives and the principles on which effective schools can, and cannot, base their policy and practice decisions.
“Way Too Much Fantasy With That Dream House”
Debbie Roffman in the Washington Post, Sunday, December 22, 2002 (Registration required)
“Ultimately, we’ll need to create a society where our children’s first and most important reference points about sexuality are families and schools, not their peers, the media or the Mattel company.”
“What Our Kids Know About Sex: All Mechanics, No Meaning”
Debbie Roffman in the Washington Post, June 9, 2002 (Registration required)
“We have never done the collective headwork required to figure out what our new contextual, moral yardsticks should be. How are we to think — to make our subjective judgments about what is right and wrong sexually — without them? ”
Debbie Roffman, on ABC News’ 20/20:
“Sex in Middle School: “Just Say No” Doesn’t Cut It in Keeping Kids from Sex”
A Report by John Stossel on Teens and Sex featuring expert advice from Deborah Roffman.
Debbie Roffman, in the Washington Post
“Abstain, Yes. But With Your Eyes Wide Open” September 2, 2001; Washington Post
“Pitching comprehensive sex education as the enemy, of abstinence is false, misleading and counterproductive, and that as long as we in the United States continue to polarize this issue, we’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re doing well by our kids.”
Debbie Roffman, in the Los Angeles Times:
“This [The Report of the Surgeon General of the U.S., Dr. David Satcher, “A Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior”] is the most important thing that has happened in the 30 years I have been working in this field. It is the first time government in any form has come out with a statement of support for various p rinciples of human sexuality and scientifically supported findings about sexuality education.”
Read the entire article: “Sex-Ed Report Pleasantly Surprises Some,” by Kathleen Kelleher. L.A. Times, 7/3/01.
Read Dr. Satcher’s complete report online.
“Freak Dancing’ Craze Generates Friction, Fears,” By Catherine Gewertz. Education Week, Feb 28 2001.
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An excerpt: To Deborah Roffman, a Baltimore-area sex educator, freak dancing illustrates how adults fall woefully short in teaching young people about sexuality. In most homes and classrooms, she said, teenagers learn that sex equals intercourse, which enables them to view other sexual acts as unimportant.
“If you think of sex as recreational, like bowling, then it is meaningless,” Ms. Roffman said. “Freak dancing is an outgrowth of that attitude. What they are doing is engaging in sexual behavior without taking responsibility for it.”
Teachers and parents need to help young people understand that all expressions of sexuality exist along a continuum, that all must be viewed as intimate, and that they must be handled with the appropriate care and responsibility, Ms. Roffman said.
Even parents of today’s adolescents, who lived through—and perhaps partook heartily of—the sexually permissive 1960s and 1970s, find themselves unable to discuss sexuality in the open and comprehensive way their children need, Ms. Roffman said.