A generation of alumni who say they have suffered abuse, humiliation and other horrors in the for-profit, remote schools of the “troubled youth” industry are taking revenge thanks to Paris Hilton.
The celebrity – whose new YouTube documentary “This is Paris” reveals her dark past – was sent to one such place in 1995, the CEDU school in California.
Hilton, now 39, fled by allegedly calling her grandfather Conrad Hilton to pick her up. She escaped from another school by jumping a flight of stairs. In 1996 she was detained in a detention facility, Provo Canyon, Utah, until she was 18. There, according to Hilton, she was beaten by employees, prescribed unknown pills and put in solitary confinement for almost 20 hours.
At least one former adviser admits to loathing Hilton.
“It was absolutely the worst,”
But the rebellion Roye remembered also helped Hilton schools survive – and later thrive. She says in the film that the nightmarish experience motivated her to get so rich and successful that no one would ever control her again.
The aftermath of the film could help curb a largely unregulated billion dollar industry that experts say is falling victim to vulnerable children and parents.
Celebrities like Roseanne Barr, Barbara Walters, Graham Nash, Farrah Fawcett and members of the Eagles have sent their children to these facilities.
Youth are often forcibly removed from their homes and taken to school by security officials. Sometimes they don’t see their parents for two years. Calls and letters are monitored – and children face punishment for telling their families what’s going on, according to a number of former students interviewed by The Post.
“It was terrible,” said Jen Robison, 31, who attended Provo Canyon School from 2003-2005. “They isolated us, they tied us up, they violently drugged us [antipsychotic] Drugs like haloperidol. “
Provo Canyon School said in a statement that the facility was sold in 2000 and school officials cannot comment on the previous owners but “do not condone or encourage any form of abuse.”
Robison is one of the organizers of Breaking Code Silence, a social media movement that encourages alumni to share testimonials.
“[These schools] say they offer therapy, but most of them punish the kids when they do something wrong, like doing a bed wrong, ”Robison claimed. “They take advantage of desperate parents who have no idea what is going on in schools.”
Places like Provo Canyon are now owned by companies like Universal Health Services who have benefited from the system – not just by getting parents to make more than $ 7,000 a month, but by raising Medicaid money to help children and others Encourage “unwanted” people. Children can be dumped there.
According to a recent research in the Salt Lake City Tribune, Alaska spent more than $ 31 million in Medicaid funds over six years to send 511 children to reform schools in Utah.
According to experts, many of the 200 or so private residential schools for teenagers are located in Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Texas due to relatively loose government regulations.
The #breakingcodesilence movement – according to their website, Code Silence, is when students are instructed to ignore and not speak to classmates who are being punished – is fighting a system that has roots in an infamous Californian cult 1960s has. Synanon was one of the first rehab centers in the world and pioneered the concept of “hard love” to help addicts. Although Synanon imploded, the idea of today’s “attack therapy” is still practiced in what are sometimes referred to as “boarding schools for emotional growth.”
Sessions known as “raps”, shown in clips on YouTube, often last several days and can involve classmates and teachers yelling at other students about violations or bad attitudes.
The horrors – including missing and possibly murdered children – that allegedly took place in schools have been steadily documented over the years in small films, podcasts like “The Lost Kids,” and anonymous online accounts. But they didn’t get much public appeal before Hilton.
“We were pumped full of all sorts of drugs,” said Cristy Kirwin, who was sent to Provo Canyon when he was 13, told The Post. “I was attracted [anti-depressants] Prozac, Desipramine, and Lithium. We were all like zombies. The staff watched you even when you went to the bathroom. When I was isolated, I was stripped to my underwear in front of male guards. “
Kirwin, now 44, said she will never forget Provo Canyon therapist Megan Hamblin, who mistakenly identified her as multiple personalities.
Hamblin, now 79 and retired, said she doesn’t remember Kirwin. She contradicted claims that the parents did not know what was going on in the facilities and denied that any of the treatments were inappropriate.
“Not all children were in shackles,” said Hamblin. “Many of them were a handful, but they were good children. . . There may have been some problems, but I feel like a lot of these students speaking out now are exaggerating. “
Persephone Jael Brick was 16 when she was sent to Provo Canyon – not because she was a “bad kid,” Brick said, but because her parents hoped she would receive mental treatment for schizoaffective disorders and anxiety.
Instead, said 24-year-old Brick, she was often thrown into solitary confinement – a padded room called an “investment unit” – for three days when she cried or talked back.
It got its name, Brick said, because the students accumulated “investment points” on crimes so minor that they would be late for dinner or talk back. Some teenagers would be in the investment units for weeks or months, former students told The Post.
They also cited the trauma they still experience as a result of “Dial 9”: Employees used walkie talkies to dial “Dial 9” when they found a child playing off, Brick and others said.
When a “dial 9” was called, the other students had to turn and look at the wall so they wouldn’t see what Brick described as “three tall men coming to hold back a 120 pound girl” and put them in one isolated cell brought.
Brick called schools like Provo part of a “very predatory industry. They chase parents who are desperate and do not understand how mental health care works. . . The companies that run these schools try to be like the private prison system. “
Universal Health Services said in a statement: “We do not condone or encourage abuse. . . All suspected / suspected abuses will be reported immediately to our government regulators, law enforcement agencies, and child protection services as necessary. “
Randolph Roye has no regrets about teaching at CEDU for years and says that 70 percent of his former students rate their experience there positively. He admitted that the other 30 percent didn’t like it.
Nevertheless, the school has achieved many victories. Ironically, his description of the children who benefited from CEDU sounds a lot like Paris Hilton.
“So many children had only known failure,” he said. “We had to invest them in their own lives and for some of them something just clicked. It was hard love, sure, but they got it. They decided to invest in their future and make themselves successful, and they did. “
But former student Kirwin said, “It is time for people to stop sending children”. And Alum Brick agrees.
“We were kids,” she said. “We shouldn’t suffer and try to survive. We should be safe. “