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The Amish: A Shocking Story

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The Amish: A Shocking Story

The Amish: A Shocking Story

Two hundred years ago electricity had not been discovered, the automobile was nearly one hundred years away, and the quickest mode of transportation was still horseback. In 1800 the Amish thrived on their farms, located mainly in the Midwest, in places such as Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and even Pennsylvania. They kept mainly to themselves, venturing out of their close knit communities only occasionally, and then, only for a short time. Their farming techniques were cutting edge, their plows the best the industry had to offer, and irrigation systems that were top of the line. The Amish lived in large white houses, cooked large meals, and had large families. Their lifestyle seemed much like that of everyone around them, and then they stopped. The Amish felt led to lead a simple a life, following the teachings of Jacob Amman. They were compelled to let go of things that the world had to offer, they chose to neglect new technology and continue on with the life they had. The Amish separated themselves from the ever changing world around them, and secured for themselves a life of simplicity.

In the present day the Amish are no different from the life they led nearly two centuries ago. They still farm, live in large houses with large families, and rarely venture away from home. They have no electricity, no phone lines, and no running water. The Amish stayed true to their beliefs and the teachings of their founder. Stepping into an Amish community is much like taking a ride in a time machine. It can be hard for many American children to comprehend a life away from televisions, computers, and cars, but for every Amish youth, it is a way of life.

Amish children are raised to have a great respect for those people around them, especially family members. They are brought up in part by the whole community that surrounds them. They are loved very much, and give that love and respect back to their parents and those around them. The children are expected to work hard as soon as they are old enough to do so. The young boys help their father's and other male family members with the farm, crops, and animals, whereas the young girls help their mothers with household duties including cooking, cleaning, sewing, and caring for the infants. All Amish children are raised speaking Dutch which sounds much like German; however, they are also taught English. They are fluent in both. Nearly 100 percent of all Amish are bilingual, but their education stops there. The Amish children are all required to go to school at the Amish school house which is run by members of the community, or else a teacher is hired from outside the community to teach. All children, from kindergarten through the eighth grade learn in the same small, one room school house. Amish schooling does not go beyond the eighth grade and children are encouraged to stop their schooling at that level and begin work on the family farms. The life of a young Amish seems to be one of simplicity, hard work, and respect; however, an Amish boy or girl's life, once he or she reaches the age of sixteen, takes a severe turn.

The Amish are one of a few Anabaptist religions. The name Anabaptist is given due to the fact that the Amish do not baptize infants, as do Catholics. The Amish belief is that a person should make his own choice to be baptized, and after that choice is made, a young man can be accepted into the community as a member. This rite of passage is not a simple one though, the parents of a teenager want him or her to make the choice to be baptized into the Amish church only after they have experienced the world, and decided that a life of simplicity is what they desire. At this point, the Amish partake in a sort of ritual that seems almost sac religious. The Amish, or Dutch, word for an Amish teenager's rite of passage is "Rumspringa", which means "running around". When a teenager is on his rumspringa he is allowed to do whatever he wants outside the bounds of his community. The parents, as well as the community from which the teen was raised, all turn a blind eye to the actions of the youth. The elders and parents do not ask questions and do not give advice; they simply let the children run wild, and run wild they do.

For Amish teens this experience is the first they have ever had outside of their Amish community, they have always been warned of the temptations and dangers that "the world" has to offer, and now they are set loose in it to see what it has to offer. Most teens partake in underage drinking, the use of illegal drugs, premarital sex, and also use all the amenities of the every day teenager, including T.V., computers, movies, and cars. As funny as it sounds, Amish teens on rumspringa have been known to be crazier when it comes to drugs and alcohol then even the most seasoned abusers.

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