Paris Hilton calls for federal reform of youth treatment centers while sharing her story of traumatic abuse

Paris Hilton described the traumatic abuse she suffered during her time at a youth treatment center in public testimony Wednesday before a House committee, urging lawmakers to enact laws that would protect vulnerable children.

Hilton, whose great-grandfather founded Hilton Hotels, advocated for federal oversight of such facilities and described his own experience with them. She told the House Ways and Means Committee that she was 16 when she was taken from her bed in the middle of the night and transferred to such a center.

At the time, Hilton suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was getting poor grades and skipping school. Someone recommended that his parents send him to a children’s treatment center.

“These programs promised ‘healing, growth and support,’ but instead they didn’t allow me to speak, move freely or even look out the window for two years,” Hilton said. “I was force-fed with drugs and sexually abused by staff. I was violently restrained and dragged through the corridors, stripped naked and thrown into solitary confinement. »

Hilton described his parents as having been “completely misled” about his treatment at the Provo Canyon School.

Paris Hilton calls for federal reform of youth treatment centers while sharing her story of traumatic abuse
Actor and child welfare advocate Paris Hilton testified Wednesday at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on child welfare.Samuel Corum/Getty Images

“My parents had no idea; they just thought it would be a normal boarding school,” she said. “And when I got there, there was no therapy. We were constantly being torn down, abused, yelled at, yelled at. No education at all. I learned nothing there except trauma.”

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said in a report Wednesday that many states fail to track how often children in foster care are abused, sexually assaulted or poorly restrained, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.

Federal taxpayers spend billions of dollars on foster care for thousands of children across the country. Some children are placed with family in homes or with relatives. The most expensive care, which can cost hundreds of dollars a day or more, involves residential treatment centers — essentially group homes for children. These children sometimes have complex medical or behavioral needs.

Hilton, 43, said she was testifying to be “a voice for children who don’t have one right now.”

“For children who end up in foster care, we cannot allow them to grow up in institutions,” she told the committee. “The treatment these children have had to endure is criminal. These children deserve to grow up in a safe, family-centered environment.”

She pointed to a troubled boys’ school in Jamaica, where students accused staff of widespread abuse, including beatings and starvation. The United States removed seven American children from the school in March, and five staff members have since been charged with child cruelty.

Hilton traveled to Jamaica to support and meet with the boys, telling the committee that she had worked to find suitable placements for them.

In a 2022 opinion column in USA Today, Hilton claimed that as a teenager, she was repeatedly forced out of bed at night for gynecological exams against her will. She described being “almost naked” in a cinder block room used for solitary confinement.

Hilton wrote that it “is not a treatment; This is torture “.

“It takes all the courage I have to speak out about this, but I can’t stand knowing that children as young as 8 are being sent to these ‘troubled teen’ programs by unknowing parents and government agencies. who don’t know, be careful,” she wrote.

Hilton led protests calling for the closure of the Provo Canyon School, and she spoke to other former students of the institution in her 2020 documentary, “This is Paris.”

Provo Canyon School said it was sold in 2000 and could not comment on its operations before then.

Two senators have begun inquiring about companies that own many such youth treatment centers in 2022, including the one that owns Provo Canyon School.

Gn entert
News Source : www.nbcnews.com

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