A report from Al Jazeera says that a similar school called Diamond Ranch Academy, which is a private juvenile treatment center in southern Utah, had a troubled teenage program called observation and assessment.
She continued with the torture at school saying: “I think it was their intention to break us down. And they were physically abusive, the first hit us and the second strangled us. They wanted to instill fear in the kids so that we would be too afraid to be in their way to disobey them. Three of Hilton’s classmates who appeared in the documentary made similar allegations against Provo Canyon School. They said they were often force-fed with drugs and protected as punishment by restraints. Paris mentioned that she was in isolation after the school learned that she was trying to escape. In her face, fear continued to make her feel like a prisoner. “Every day I had panic attacks and cried out.” I was just so miserable. I felt like a prisoner and I hated my life” –
She also mentioned that attempts to tell her parents partially failed due to school-induced interference. “I didn’t really get to talk to my family. When I tried to tell them once, I was so worried I was to say it again. They would grab the phone or scrape the letters I wrote to me to tell me No one is going to believe you. And the staff would tell the parents that the children were lying. Also my parents had no idea what was going on”
Finally, in 1999, she left the school and returned to New York, but was terrified to speak up against abuse as she was ‘ashamed’ of speaking out about it. After 20 years Hilton had the opportunity to open up about the school trauma by filming a documentary about her life in hopes of moving on. She said, “It feels like my nightmare is over now… And I am going to watch the movie with my parents — I think it will be good for us but also emotional. There are no secrets anymore.
Hilton has stated that at this point she has no plans to pursue legal justice and would rather devote time spreading awareness concerning such behavioral schools that promote physical and verbal abuse. The places “I want to close down are I want them to be held responsible. And I want to be a voice for children and now adults who have had similar experiences. I want it to stop for good and I will do everything I can to make it happen,” she was quoted in People. When people reached the school for comments on the allegations, it replied by saying ‘twenty-five years later, the Provo Canyon School was sold out of its previous ownership in August 2000. Also, prior to that time we can not comment on the operations or patient experiences.
What is Provo Canyon School?
In 1980s and ’90s, however, the school was ensnared in controversy over its conduct. Former students filed cases against private schools for youth including Provo for its use of ‘Behavioral Modification Programs’ which violated Section 1983 and Rehabilitation Act. The U.S. District Court for the Utah District, Bruce S. Jerkins, J., entered judgment and court action was taken.
Utah’s residential schools are stricken in controversy over their programs
There have been many controversy about the behavior treatment and the residential schools in Utah in the past. An Al Jazeera report states that a similar school called Diamond Ranch Academy, reportedly a private juvenile residential treatment center in southern Utah, had a troubled teenage program called observation and assessment. Based on some first person stories, the report says that the program was filled with some “mindless tasks” and even physical abuse if anyone disobeyed the rules or showed signs of transgression. Diamond Ranch Academy lawyers denied abuse at the facility and said that the school and many others in Utah are regularly regulated and inspected.
After several reports shed light on troubled teens in such schools in Utah, a bill was passed in 2005 that makes facilities acclaim state operating licenses. To obtain a license, a building must be inspected at least once a year to ensure it is in compliance with the State Rules. For example, children should visit a therapist once a week, restraint and isolation may not be used (as was also highlighted by Hilton), and mails should be sent and received freely according to safety measures. Despite the law, there have been a dozen deaths in residential schools in Utah alone where the call to stop child abuse in treatment centers gained momentum.