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Devil's Playground Essay

867 words - 4 pages

When an adolescent in the Amish culture turns sixteen, they are encouraged to pursue “Rumspringa”- a period of time to go experience the English world, free from traditional Amish restrictions. The intention of this exposure is to give teenagers the experience of life outside the restrictive Amish community and truly decide if they want to join the Amish church and its traditions or live in the English world. During this period, parents and elders of the Amish church allow children to be their own authority. They do not question the actions taken, regardless of the dangers or consequences of those decisions. The Amish community believes this is the best method for the adolescents to decide their fate freely. I however, disagree with this hands’ off, ignore-the behavior approach Amish parents and leaders take with their children. I believe the approach of introducing inexperienced youths to uninhibited freedom, without warning or guidance, increases risk-taking behaviors and provides the adolescents with a skewed view of what the “outside world” has to offer. Yes, the majority of the Amish children return to the community after Rumspringa, but did they really get an accurate picture of what a balanced English life could be?
Amish adolescents are not properly educated before, or during, Rumspringa about the consequences they may encounter with certain English-life decisions. They are taught, however, that the actions during Rumspringa will be washed away and forgotten, should they join the Amish church. Much like a wild bachelor party take in Vegas, once the groom says his vows it is as if it never happened. What happens in Rumspringa, stays in Rumspringa. When you consider that these Amish adolescents have had a forced restriction from the outside world, it is understandable that they would over-indulge themselves during Rumspringa. As teenagers, their hormones and desire for independence and acceptance are at their peak and they have a guaranteed forgiveness waiting for them at home. No remorse necessary. I believe that these dangerous behaviors could be moderated if parents still “parented” and educated their children during this time. Studies have found that comprehension is better than abstinence. For example, the documentary showed Faron doing Crystal Meth. He quit drugs when he returned home, but he fell into a withdrawal that caused him to sleep for five days straight. Witnessing their son’s physical destruction, Faron’s parents did not address his behaviors and allowed him to continue as-is through Rumspringa. Not surprisingly, Faron relapsed. Other Amish adolescents admitted to over drinking, because they did not know their limits or the lasting effects...

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