Paris Hilton Called on Congress to Reform 'Troubled Teen' Care In New Op-Ed
After allegedly suffering abuse from "troubled teen" programs in her own youth, Paris Hilton wants to make a positive change in children and teen behavior modification programs and boarding schools.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, the 40-year-old heiress recalled the time she spent as a teenager at four different facilities, where she claimed she endured "physical and psychological abuse by staff. She also called her entry into at least one program "parent-approved kidnapping."
"I was choked, slapped across the face, spied on while showering, and deprived of sleep," she wrote in The Washington Post. "I was called vulgar names and forced to take medication without a diagnosis. At one Utah facility, I was locked in solitary confinement in a room where the walls were covered in scratch marks and bloodstains."
Although Hilton didn't specify the facility, she previously spoke out about her experience at Pravo Canyon School, which she accused of abuse in 2020.
"It was supposed to be a school, but [classes] were not the focus at all," said Hilton to People last year. "From the moment I woke up until I went to bed, it was all day screaming in my face, yelling at me, continuous torture." Hilton also alleged that the staff was physically abusive, and claimed that teens at the Academy were cut off from the outside world. At the time, Provo Canyon School said in a statement to People, "Originally opened in 1971, Provo Canyon School was sold by its previous ownership in August 2000. We therefore cannot comment on the operations or patient experience prior to this time."
Hilton knows she isn't alone: She addressed the May 2020 death of Cornelius Frederick, a 16-year-old resident at a Michigan behavior modification center called Lakeside Academy. Frederick's death was ruled a homicide after he was allegedly forcibly restrained by Lakeside Academy staff — all for throwing a sandwich, according to People.
She wrote in her op-ed for The Washington Post, "No child should die in the name of 'treatment.' But too many children have."
Hilton urged the federal government to take action to create laws that can help prevent congregate-care facilities from harming more children and teens. (Related: Bebe Rexha Talks Mental Health and Feeling 'Self-Conscious' About Her Thighs With Paris Hilton)
"Congress and President Biden need to enact a basic federal 'bill of rights' for youth in congregate care," she affirmed in her op-ed for The Washington Post. "Every child placed in these facilities should have a right to a safe, humane environment, free from threats and practices of solitary confinement, and physical or chemical restraint at the whim of staff. Had such rights existed and been enforced, I and countless other survivors could have been spared the abuse and trauma that have haunted us into adulthood."
The This Is Paris star continued, "Congress must also provide states with funding to create comprehensive reporting systems for incidents of institutional abuse and to establish standards for best practices and staff training. It should also require states to prove that children's basic rights are being protected.
"Ensuring that children, including at-risk children, are safe from institutional abuse, neglect and coercion isn't a Republican or Democratic issue—it's a basic human rights issue that requires immediate action," she concluded. "Those in power have an obligation to protect the powerless."
Hilton expounded on her work to fight for reforms in an Instagram photo posted Wednesday, which featured her holding a copy of The Washington Post. The heiress noted that she arrived in Washington, D.C., for "a series of events and meetings" to further campaign for the cause.
"As a survivor myself, I am an advocate and fighter for all survivors and I'm proud to be taking on the multi-billion dollar industry of thousands of these facilities that profits off of abusing children and teens," she captioned the snap. "Change is needed now and I won't stop until it is made."