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Paris Hilton is calling on Congress to take action to protect children and teenagers living in so-called "reform" facilities. On Thursday, a group of congressional Democrats confirmed that they are working with Hilton to craft legislation that will crack down on abuse within facilities for troubled youth.
Last year, Hilton opened up about the abuse she experienced while enrolled at Utah's Provo Canyon School, a boarding school and "youth residential treatment center." She spoke out first in the YouTube documentary This is Paris, and later in a Washington Post op-ed.
This week, Hilton detailed her experience again at the US Capitol, after months of campaigning. Speaking in front of lawmakers and advocates, per BBC News, she described how she still struggles with insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder years after her time at the school. She recounted emotional and physical abuse, solitary confinement, and being forced to take medication.
"My parents were promised that tough love would fix me and that sending me across the country was the only way," Hilton said, in a speech pushing for a legislative crackdown on the "multibillion-dollar troubled teen industry" and its "systemwide lack of transparency and accountability."
"I wish I could tell you that what I experienced was unique or even rare—but sadly it's not," she continued. "Every day in America, children in congregate care settings are being physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Children are even dying at the hands of those responsible for their care,"
Hilton went on to describe how the Accountability for Congregate Care Act would put safeguards in place to protect the rights of young people in residential facilities. California Democrat Ro Khanna confirmed that he and several colleagues in the party are drafting legislation to set standards around hygiene, nutrition and safety. “This is not a messaging bill—this is a bill we need to pass,” he said.
Following Hilton's revelations, many former residents of youth facilities have come forward to share similar stories. Last week, the National Disability Rights Network issued a blistering report on the industry, which described systemic physical, sexual, and psychological abuse at numerous facilities.
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