Paris Hilton Testifies to U.S. Congress About Childhood Abuse

BBC News

Paris Hilton has called for change to youth treatment facilities and described her own traumatic experience of alleged abuse before a U.S. congressional committee. The American socialite and businesswoman said she was "force-fed medications and sexually abused by staff" after being sent to a private youth facility in Utah as at a teenager. Her testimony shines a light on the so-called "troubled teen industry".

While some children are placed with relatives or foster families, others are sent to treatment centres that are essentially group homes for children - some of whom have complex medical or behavioural needs.

Hilton, 43, accused the industry, which is worth billions of dollars, of being more interested in making money than protecting and caring for the vulnerable children it is responsible for.

The former reality TV star is an outspoken advocate for children in youth facilities as well as those in the foster care system. She has previously spoken about her own experience through a book, documentary and interviews.

Hilton says that when she was 16 years old, she was taken by strangers from her bed in the middle of the night. Her school grades had been slipping, and her parents were worried about her behaviour.

But they "had no idea" what the facility was really like and were "continually being lied [to] and manipulated by the staff", Hilton told the committee.