Growing Up Sexually





(2,2+,2,2+,3-,3;2,1; AB



IndexAmericasCaribbean, Middle / Central AmericaWest IndiesHaiti





“In Haiti little boys and girls privately experiment in sexual activity from early childhood until puberty” (Ford and Beach, 1951:p181).

Danielsson ([1956]:p84-5; 1961:p834)[1] quotes Cook:


“Dances of an erotic character were common. Cook wrote that in Haiti, dances of this type were “performed by young girls, whenever eight or ten of them can be collected together, and added that they consisted of “motions and gestures beyond imagination wanton, in which they are brought up since their earliest childhood, accompanied by words, which, if it were possible, would more explicitly convey the same idea[2]”. Small children imitating sexual intercourse were a common sight on all islands. Only children of the same age, however, took part in these sexual games, and it was considered in the highest degree improper and abnormal for an adult to show any interest in them. Any such offence was punished with extreme severity”.


In spite of this, Danielsson adds that the “first real intercourse” occurred with “an older experienced person”, after practical instruction of its technique. See also Elis (1782, II:p153, quoted by Diamond, 1990:p433)[3]: “The ladies are very lavish of their favors […] and some of their attachments seemed purely the effects of affection. They are initiated into this way of life at a very early period; we saw some, who could not be more than ten years old”.

In the early 1940s, there was no parental sex education among Haiti peasants (Simpson, 1943:p665)[4]. Underwood and Honigmann (1947:p568)[5] stated that masturbation was prohibited and not observed. Training would be so effective that even erections are not observed [sic]. Housing leaves room for minimal privacy only.

A more recent study of Cuban and Haitian child-rearing practices clearly demonstrates two divergent parental views of adolescent sexuality (DeSantis and Thomas, 1987)[6].













Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Danielsson, B. ([1954] 1956) Love in the South Seas. (transl. F. Lyon). London: Allen & Unwin

[2] Cook, J. (1777) An Account of a Voyage around the World. Hawkesworth, Ed., Vol.1, p206

[3] Ellis, W. (1782) An Authenic Narrative of a Voyage Performed by Captain Cook and Captain Clerke […]. London: Robinson; Diamond, M. (1990) Selected cross-generational sexual behavior in traditional Hawai’i: a sexological ethnography, in Feierman, J. R. (Ed.) Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions. New York (etc.): Springer, p422-44, see p433

[4] Simpson, G. E. (1943) Sexual and familial institutions in Northern Haiti, Am Anthropol 44:655-74

[5] Underwood, F. W. & Honigmann, I. (1947) A comparison of socialization and personality in two simple societies, Am Anthropol 49:557-77.  Reprinted in Haring, D. G. (Ed., 1956) Personal Character and Cultural Milieu. Syracuse

[6] DeSantis, L. & Thomas, J. T. (1987) Parental attitudes toward adolescent sexuality: transcultural perspectives, Nurse Pract 12,8:43-8