Paris Hilton pushes for bill to crack down on abusive youth establishments – .

Paris Hilton pushes for bill to crack down on abusive youth establishments – .

A group of Congressional Democrats said on Wednesday they plan to work with Paris Hilton to create new regulations to prevent child abuse at facilities for troubled teens.

Representative Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Said he was drafting legislation that would give children in youth facilities the right to call their parents, be free from restraints and have access to clean water and nutritious meals – none of which are currently provided to thousands of children in these facilities nationwide.

For more on this story, watch NBC’s “Nightly News with Lester Holt” tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. CT.

“The multibillion dollar troubled teen industry has been able to mislead parents, school districts, child welfare agencies and juvenile justice systems for decades,” he said. said Hilton, a media personality and entrepreneur who has become a leading activist calling for more oversight of youth establishments. . “The reason is a lack of system-wide transparency and accountability. ”

Hilton revealed her experience as a teenager at four youth establishments in a YouTube documentary last year.

In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Hilton said that while on these programs, she was strangled, slapped, spied on while showering and deprived of sleep.

“There are thousands of these types of schools, and almost 200,000 children are placed there each year,” said Hilton. “And every day, children are physically, emotionally, verbally, psychologically and sexually abused. “

Soon to be introduced legislation, as outlined by lawmakers, would bring sweeping changes to several types of youth facilities, including those dealing with foster children and children with mental disorders. and depend on funding from taxpayers, as well as institutions that depend on payment from parents to care for their disobedient adolescents. Programs that do not receive public funding are currently not subject to any federal regulation.

“This is not a courier bill – this is a bill we need to pass,” Khanna said.

Youth facilities have come under increasing pressure in recent years following the deaths of several children and inquiries detailing uncontrolled abuse, as well as a growing wave of activism from those who have spent time. in these establishments.

“Congress must act because children are dying in the name of treatment,” said Hilton. “It’s a question of human rights. People should be outraged by what is going on.

A general report released this month by the National Disability Rights Network, an advocacy group, described blatant examples of abuse in youth facilities, including the excessive use of physical restraint on children, the abuse of psychiatric drugs and sexual abuse by employees of establishments.

“We found these problems to be very serious and very consistent from state to state,” said Diane Smith Howard, criminal and juvenile justice lawyer at the National Disability Rights Network.

Megan Stokes, executive director of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, an industry trade group, said she supports the creation of federal standards, “because we would like everyone to be subject to the same standards of care “.

Advocates working with Khanna’s office said they intended to establish a “bill of rights” for young people in collective care facilities, which would ensure proper toiletries and nutrition, and prohibit establishments to suspend sleep, meals or hydration; and to place children in isolation rooms, closets or cages as punishment. Advocates also want to establish ways for children to report violations to state and federal authorities.

Three Democratic members of Congress – Representatives Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut and Adam Schiff from California, and Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon – have said they will co-sponsor the bill. They work with several groups that advocate for youth in foster care, children with special needs and institutionalized adolescents. One of the groups, Breaking Code Silence, has started issuing guidance notes on current legislation.

“Federal legislation must be passed to strengthen the sense of responsibility, to have more teeth,” said Vanessa Hughes, Organizational Director of Breaking Code Silence. “States have had ample opportunity. They have failed to regulate this industry.


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