A recent article in the Massillon Independent depicts the efforts of law enforcement in Holmes and neighboring Tuscarawas County to thwart large parties held regularly in the area.

According to authorities, these parties, such as those held at a resort in Tuscarawas County, have a significant Amish youth presence. Drugs such as meth and cocaine are sold and used at them.

From the article:

Such parties are commonplace, according to Holmes County sheriff’s deputies.

“They’ve had these parties for years in our county,” said Sgt. Joe Mullet, of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department.

Mullet said partygoers have thrown rocks at sheriff’s cruisers and, one year, a group tried to overturn one of the department’s cars.

Campbell said he would like to see more dialogue between law enforcement and the Amish community.

So would Naomi Stutzman. Stutzman, 29, grew up in the Amish community but left when she was 18. Stutzman said she believes the Amish community can’t handle the drug issues on its own.

“There’s a lot of harder drugs amongst the Amish youth,” she said. “I witnessed that when I was doing my thing.”

Stutzman said she began attending drinking parties when she was 15. While her parents didn’t approve, Stutzman said it was something that “everybody did.”

She said the biggest issue was that, like many Amish parents, her parents didn’t discuss drugs and alcohol with her.

“I was so sheltered — when you get a breath of fresh air, and you decide you can break out or leave, you go psycho. You go crazy,” Stutzman said. “That’s the mistake I made.

“The fear of getting caught isn’t quite as strong as it is in the regular world, if that’s what you want to call it,” she added.

Two new books address youth and drug issues among the Amish.  We’ll be hearing from Growing Up Amish: The Rumspringa Years author and friend of the site Richard Stevick soon.

A second book due out later this year, Serving the Amish: A Cultural Guide for Professionalsby clinical psychologist and Amish Youth Vision Project co-director James Cates, covers youth issues within its wide scope.

While it’s hard to take the current crop of reality shows portraying wild Amish behavior as representative, the fact is that some Amish youth get into things they might be ashamed to admit to 10 years down the road.

As suggested by Naomi Stutzman, Amish parents don’t approve, but may not be proactive in addressing substance abuse (though Geauga County Amish, at least, have met with authorities to tackle drug issues recently).

Just how many Amish youth and young adults are involved?

According to the article, “nearly 1,500 young adults and teenagers — many of them Amish” come to participate in the parties.

If these are like other large organized Amish-attended parties, this likely includes partygoers from other communities and states.