We recently saw some wild Amish youth behavior on a small scale, when four Amish youth were charged with offenses including underage drinking and disturbing the peace.

That number went up by almost tenfold this past weekend in northern Indiana.

Nearly 40 Amish teens and young adults were arrested between two area parties attended by over 200 people, who were, according to police accounts in this 8 News report, “mostly young and drunk.”

Lagrange County Chief Deputy Tracy Harker comments:

“We have several of these kids, some of them are barely 15, 16 years old and they’re out experimenting with alcohol and drugs,” added Harker.

Harker said when you have hundreds of kids against only a few officers, things can get dangerous.

Especially for the kids.

“They will break doors and windows to try to get out of there, to get away from us,” added Harker.

Harker says he doesn’t want to make life hard for kids by arresting them at parties. He says they just need to make good choices.

Here’s the video report:

WANE gives more details of the parties and arrests, which total up to 38 juveniles and adults:

Deputies spoke with multiple men at the scene and advised them to turn the music down, cleared the scene, then were sent back out to the same area a short time later. When they arrived, they were met with multiple people in the driveway who then ran from police on foot.

Deputies then discovered what they called a “large Amish Party” with more than 250 people, who all tried to flee the area. Deputies were able to put seven people into custody who were over 18 but under 21, leading to charges of Minor in Consumption of Alcohol and Contributing to a Delinquent Minor.

Hours later around 1:00 a.m., deputies were called to 3485 N 795 W in Shipshewana to another noise complaint. During their investigation, deputies determined multiple people under 21 were consuming alcohol leading to 16 juvenile arrests and 15 adult arrests.

Break the trend?

Northern Indiana is one of the Amish settlements with a reputation for these kinds of parties. In larger Amish settlements there is always going to be a more rebellious and wilder element just like there tends to be in any youth community.

In response to this, Amish parents and leaders in comparably large communities like Holmes County and Lancaster County have successfully established systems of supervised youth groups for their young people.

That doesn’t solve all problems, and doesn’t mean the youth of those communities are all model future Amish church members. But it does offer an alternative structure for youth activities, and also sends a clear message that youth behavior is important to the church and parents.

To what degree have Amish parents and leaders in northern Indiana attempted something similar?

I admit I don’t know to what extent supervised youth groups in Elkhart and Lagrange Counties function. No doubt news like this is frustrating for those parents and church leaders who want change in their community.

The RV factories, where many young people find work and rub shoulders with non-Amish world, are sometimes blamed for their influence on both youth and the community as a whole.

This blame may be well-founded, and/or it may serve as a scapegoat of sort – because there is also the inertia of this type of behavior being passed down generationally and from older to younger siblings.

The fact is that older siblings are quite influential on younger ones and the example of previous generations is strong.

Unless that influence is interrupted somehow, it’s no surprise that communities such as northern Indiana have preserved their reputation as a place where Amish youth party – and land themselves in trouble with the law.

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