Paris Hilton testifies before Congress about abuse at ‘troubled youth’ treatment centers

Paris Hilton called for the modernization of child welfare programs in testimony before Congress on Wednesday, citing the horrors she herself faced while she was institutionalized as a teenager.

“When I was 16 years old, I was ripped from my bed in the middle of the night and transported across state lines to the first of four youth residential treatment facilities,” she told the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington, D.C.

“These programs promised growth, healing and support, but instead did not allow me to move freely, or even look out a window for two years,” the socialite and activist continued. “I was force-fed medication and sexually abused by the staff. I was violently restrained and dragged down hallways, stripped naked and thrown into solitary confinement.”

Hilton went on to describe such treatment facilities as a $23 billion industry — which has spawned so-called therapeutic boarding schools, military-style boot camps, juvenile justice facilities and behavior-modification programs — that views troubled teens and children “as dollar signs and operates without meaningful oversight.”

Hilton added that her own experience was “isolating and traumatic,” especially given that her parents, Hilton & Hyland co-founder Rick Hilton and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kathy Hilton, were “completely deceived, lied to and manipulated by this for-profit industry about the inhumane treatment I was experiencing.”

The hotel heiress initially opened up about her trauma in the 2020 documentary, “This is Paris,” and then in an op-ed published by USA Today in 2022, in which she specifically referenced The Provo Canyon School in Utah. She said she faced verbal, emotional and physical abuse during her 11 months at the boarding school for troubled teens.

Similar programs have been the focus of recent Netflix documentaries including “Hell Camp: Teen Nightmare” and “The Program.”

Earlier this week, a cause of death was revealed for a 12-year-old New York boy, who died in February from asphyxia while trapped inside a camping bivy at a North Carolina wilderness camp for kids with emotional or behavioral difficulties.

Hilton ended her testimony by directly addressing those who are still suffering in similar programs.

“If you are a child in the system, hear my words: I see you, I believe you, I know what you’re going through, and I won’t give up on you,” she said. “You are important and your future is important and you deserve every opportunity to be safe and supported.”

“Congress please join me in creating a world where all children have a right to family love, education and the support they need,” she concluded.