February 2021
Paris Hilton testifies about abuse at Utah boarding school

Paris Hilton testifies about abuse at Utah boarding school

I am proof that money doesn’t protect against abuse. The state of Utah must monitor the companies taking exorbitant amounts of money from desperate people and taxpayers. People are profiting off of the abuse of children. This is not right. This is so wrong.

-Paris Hilton to Utah lawmakers

Paris Hilton started her organization Breaking Code Silence in hopes of getting Utah legislators to pass a bill protecting troubled teens from going through the same “hell” she went through in the 1990s. She alleged that the abuse she experienced happened at Provo Canyon School. Her story was first heard in the Youtube Originals documentary This is Paris.

“I was verbally, mentally and physically abused on a daily basis. I was cut off from the outside world and stripped of all of my human rights.” Hilton’s parents first sent her to other institutions before Provo Canyon. She also mentioned that while she was still at Provo Canyon, she did not have any chance to report the abuse because all communication with her family and the outside world was monitored.

“Without a diagnosis, I was forced to consume medication that made me feel numb and exhausted. I didn’t breathe fresh air or see the sunlight for 11 months. There was zero privacy — every time I would use the bathroom or take a shower — it was monitored,” the teary-eyed Hilton confessed. “At 16 years old — as a child — I felt their piercing eyes staring at my naked body. I was just a kid and felt violated ​every single day.​”

 

Paris Hilton testifies in Utah
Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP

Hilton’s call to regulate the troubled teen industry was heard by Senator Michael McKell who sponsored Senate Bill 127.

It seeks to put more government oversight on Utah’s youth residential treatment centers. Treatment centers would be required to document instances of physical restraints and involuntary confinement. Reports to the Utah Office of Licensing every month is also another requirement to be submitted. Chemical sedation and mechanical restraints would be banned unless authorized.

Last February 8th, Utahns took the time to watch the livestream of the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee hearing. People were crying while listening to Ms. Hilton’s story as well as the very moving detailed account of a Utah man’s experience. The story was told by Jeffrey Netto, a businessman from Draper. He owns VIP Limousine, a local black car service company. His statement was so compelling that even the Senators in the room were crying. It was a very emotional day for Utah.

Netto was first admitted in youth centers when he was 13 years old.

One of the institutions he mentioned was Heritage Schools. He was held in a five point restraint system, with plastic sheets laid out. They were not allowed to go to the bathroom. He also went through some tough time for talking back to caregivers in the institution. Solitary confinement for days, and longest was 2 months for him. This was something a regular 13-year old boy would never wish to experience.

Because of the increase in the number of people supporting this cause, the news reached Netto and his family, leading to them asking questions about his experience. At first he never wanted to tell his story. He changed in mind when he knew of Paris Hilton’s movement. He stated that he never blamed his family for what happened as this made him a tough person, a loving father to his children. But what concerns him most is the effect on other people who did not survive the same way he did. Some of the patients he was with during his stay in the institutions ended up in prison, some are in mental institutions and others died.

“I survived, but I don’t know anybody else who has from the place I went,”

 

Jeff Netto with Senator McKell
Photo by Scott Winterton of Deseret News

The mental health of abused children in these facilities will surely be affected if this pressing issue is not addressed immediately. Luckily, Senate Bill 127 got a unanimous decision from the senators.

“Now that we have the entire world looking upon this there’s no way that they’re going to get away with this anymore,” Hilton said. “A child should not go into a place and come out with more issues than what they came in with.”

The people behind this movement along with the supporters from Utah and other states are hoping that this bill will make a difference in children’s lives, including the teens of futures to come.

 

-V.Vitug

 

 

 

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