I dropped in on Safety Days today, held at the Mount Hope Auction yards.
Most of the hundreds in attendance were Amish. People slowly filed by educational booths promoting early learning, fire safety, and eye care. One fireman admonished listeners to ‘label their liquids’ since children could not tell the difference between potables and more lethal liquids such as kero or diesel.
Besides the useful information, parents and kids could pick up freebies which included suckers and tootsie rolls. The highlight of the evening was an ‘educational mock crash’ which was meant to involve a tractor and a life flight. Unfortunately I had to leave just as the crowd was gathering to watch.
Once of my few criticisms of the Amish is that with such large families, toddlers and crawlers may be left in the care of brothers and sisters sometimes only a few years older. Little kiddos, accustomed to hanging around dad in the shop, can hurt themselves pretty easily with tools and horses and barbed-wire fences around.
Farm life, especially, can be tough. I remember watching a little girl trundle around barefooted on a rusted, sharp-edged tin roof this summer in Pennsylvania. Would my mom have let me anywhere near that type of situation? No chance. As one Lancaster farmer put it, quite frankly: ‘the farm is a great place to raise a family. But it is a dangerous place’.
It’s not that I think Amish are intentionally negligent of their kids’ safety. I think that, especially on farms and in big families, it’s just one of those things that is accepted as a part of life. In any case, it was nice to see so many people interested in the event tonight.
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I have been following the Amish the past few years and there does seem to be this attitude where the older will watch younger. There was a case a few years ago where I believe 4-5 Amish girl stuffed themselves in a hope chest and suffocated. I do believe it is the parent’s or the adult to watch over the small children and not give this to siblings hardly older than themselves
Amish childhood accidents
Amish children do often watch their younger siblings. Giving the same level of responsibility to young children is not what we would expect in ‘modern’ society, nowadays anyway. A generation or two ago on larger farm families it was probably more the norm, however.
The accidents that happen are tragic. With the size of the family being what it is, I don’t really see what other choice the Amish have short of hiring help (which, incidentally, some of them do–young unmarried girls usually–mainly for help with housework as well as keeping an eye on little ones).