In our community it's called "jumping the fence!" I am not looking to stir up controversy here but hopefully to dispel it. I would love to play advocate for Amish and ex-Amish. There is almost no way a non-Amish person can comprehend what it would be like to leave the Amish.
Living Amish is a lifestyle that is absolutely all encompassing, every aspect of life is affected. If a person leaves they have to give up the good parts well as undesirable things. Having grown up with close friends and tightly-knit extended family groups, it is very difficult to walk away, especially when you would afterword become an outcast. There are many pleasant things about a slower paced agricultural lively hood, such as great food and a secure future. A close comparison would be our ancestors that came over from the old country leaving family, friends and home, knowing they may never get the opportunity to return. This transition is even more extreme. It would be more like our ancestors leaving Europe in the late 1800's and coming to modern day USA.
I really like watching Breaking Amish but at the same time it makes me sad! I see these young people going through an unbelievably difficult transition, with all of us watching. I'm happy no one watched me that close during my teenage years! Imagine growing up in a society that defines every boundary and then all at once you are having to figure out how to set your own limits.
Most of all, on the topic of Breaking Amish, I want to say that I am friends with dozens of people who have left the Amish. Almost every last one of them is a kind, hard working, well adjusted member of our community. On behalf of all of these people I want to say to everyone, don't think that Breaking Amish is a comprehensive view what it means to "jump the fence." There are many who have left the Amish in a very slow transition into a less strict Mennonite group without all the fanfare.
As with any reality show, these are extremes. There are things that are cut for just the purpose the directors are looking for and most of the circumstances are designed to push the people being filmed to their limits. The show may or may not portray the kids correctly but I just want you to stop and realize that there are extremes, as with any controversial topic. I am hoping to give you a glimpse into what I have seen in my own experience with the ex-Amish, and to speak on the behalf of the good situations that I have seen.