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At the same time, there must be at least a semblance of free choice in the decision to become Amish.

Amish parents may disapprove of their teens’ behaviors, but do not necessarily exercise authority to prevent some of those behaviors.

They may include attending church singings, participating in games and activities with one’s “buddy bunch” or “gang” and of course, dating.

A dating couple may exchange letters and see each other mainly on weekends.

A couple may date for a year or longer before a young man may ask for marriage. Participating in certain social activities as well as the use of unsanctioned technologies ends for many Amish youth at baptism, and at the latest at marriage in the Amish church.

Drug use is generally not widely seen among Amish youth.

Nonetheless, the perception of the youth period as a hedonistic time, driven by national coverage of this story as well as by the follow-up 2002 documentary Contrary to belief, Amish parents do not “encourage” their youth to leave home and experiment with sinful behaviors—nor do they condone it.

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