SHIPSHEWANA (CBS) — It’s a time for exploring and experimenting for a lot of Amish youth. Rumspringa is a rite of passage during adolescence, translated in English as “jumping or hopping around”, used in some Amish communities, but the event can also be very destructive and dangerous.
Over the weekend, nearly forty kids were arrested between two parties. Those parties reportedly had more than 200 attendees – mostly young and drunk.
Just off State Road 5 in LaGrange County is a neighborhood that’s no stranger to the Amish, but over the weekend, hundreds of Amish kids arrived to party.
Brenda Jones says she didn’t hear it but saw the aftermath on her way to church.
“We just saw a lot of beer cans lying around, and cups and stuff all over the yard and just a lot of vehicles parked there in the morning, said Brenda Jones, a neighborhood resident.
Jones says this is normally a quiet, family-friendly place.
“It’s a little disheartening to know that that’s happening in our neighborhood so close to our home, especially with young children we don’t really want them to be influenced by that,” added Jones.
LaGrange County Sheriff’s Deputies broke up the party and another nearby.
“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.
Jones feels Rumspringa isn’t a get out of jail free card.
“To me, it’s just as wrong for them, just because they’re going through the Rumspringa, versus any other child, I don’t think it’s any more right for the Amish kids to be allowed to do that,” added Jones.
Harker said the sheriff’s department does outreach with Amish communities to talk about the dangers of underage alcohol and drug use.
He says these parties are overwhelming for most Amish kids, who have had such a conservative upbringing.
Harker added, he doesn’t want to eliminate the cultural rite of passage that is Rumspringa, he just wants to keep kids safe.