Paris Hilton is advocating for widespread reform within youth congregate care centers.
In a new Washington Postop-ed, the entrepreneur and socialite urged the Biden administration and Congress to enact legislation protecting young people from being preyed upon by the "troubled teen industry." She also provided a list of suggestions of steps to take, such as the implementation of a "basic federal 'bill of rights' for youth in congregate care," providing funding to states to establish best practices and staff training, as well as improve the handling of abuse reports.
"Ensuring that children, including at-risk children, are safe from institutional abuse, neglect and coercion isn't a Republican or Democratic issue," Hilton said, before calling it a "basic human rights issue that requires immediate action."
She then went on to reference her own experience with what she called "parent-approved kidnapping" facilitated by institutions like Utah's Provo Canyon School, which provided "misleading marketing" about their programs. But instead of helping the youth entrusted to their care, Hilton recounted alleged instances of "physical and psychological abuse" at the hands of staff, including being "choked, slapped across the face, spied on while showering and deprived of sleep."
"I was called vulgar names and forced to take medication without a diagnosis," she continued. "At one Utah facility, I was locked in solitary confinement in a room where the walls were covered in scratch marks and blood stains."
Additionally, she also mentioned the death of 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick, who was fatally restrained by three staff members at Michigan's Lakeside Academy. His death — which was ruled a homicide and led to involuntary manslaughter charges for the staffers — spurred Hilton to say that, "No child should die in the name of 'treatment.' But too many children have."
"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," she went on to add. "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."