Asked by Cora
Q: I recently read a report on sexual abuse in the Amish family. How accurate is that account?
A: Hi Cora–I don’t know which report you read, so I can’t address that one specifically, but sexual abuse definitely exists within the Amish culture. As far as I can find, there have been no studies to discern how prevalent it is, as in whether or not it is more or less prevalent than in the non-Amish population. Considering how private the Amish are I’m not sure such a study is possible. However, a downside of the huge extended families is that the opportunity for a sexual predator to find prey is probably easier than in more isolated communities. An outside social agency prepared a booklet about sexual abuse a while ago entitled Strong Families, Safe Children, which has been widely distributed by Amish church leaders. There are also booklets distributed about the explicit psychological damage that sexual abuse causes that has been widely distributed. An Amish periodical, Family Life, that is in nearly every Amish household I visit, has had many articles on abuse, trying to inform families and help victims. There have some solid attempts by some of the leadership to educate and warn their people about the existence of sexual abuse in their community. Whether or not this will have an impact, I don’t know. It would be wonderful if they could find a way to completely eradicate sexual abuse from their culture. It would be wonderful if our non-Amish culture could do the same. One child who has to endure this is absolutely one too many.
Thanks for the question Cora!