The Program on Netflix: What Paris Hilton has said about her links to ‘troubled teen’ schools

‘It was the most traumatising experience I ever went through in my life’

The latest true crime documentary on Netflix is The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping. The three-part series tells the awful goings on at “troubled teen” schools, revealing the truth of the abuse taking place at them, focusing on the stories from pupils at Ivy Ridge. At one moment during the Netflix doc, Paris Hilton is shown with some of the former Ivy Ridge students, which has raised questions of her involvement with what was going on there.

The now-defunct boarding school was where parents would send their children and it promised hiking, sports and learning, and an opportunity for children to turn their lives around and reach their full potential. But, as explored in the Netflix doc, what the school was actually like has been likened to a cult for its staff and the parents who sent their kids there, and pupils were abused and brainwashed. They were subject to solitary confinement, physical and mental abuse, and told they couldn’t leave.

Paris Hilton appears in the Netflix doc at what appears to be a rally alongside other survivors of these types of schools, and people protesting for change. She also appears in clips from news shows, talking about her links to the multibillion dollar industry.

Paris Hilton, Ivy Ridge, The Program Cons Cults and Kidnapping, Netflix

via Netflix

So, what is the link between Paris Hilton and ‘troubled teen’ schools such as Ivy Ridge?

Paris Hilton might be the It Girl of the 00s, the epitome of fame, fortune and glamour, with an LA mansion and pink cars, but her life hasn’t always been that way. Paris Hilton spent time at a school very similar to Ivy Ridge. She attended the Provo Canyon boarding school in Utah for 11 months as a teenager.

From 16-years-old she was sent to four of these “schools” which promised behaviour therapy and the chance for families to “solve their problems” and “become closer”. Provo Canyon is marketed as an “intensive, psychiatric youth residential treatment centre.”

In an interview with Sky News, Paris said she was never a “bad kid” and was “just a normal 16-year-old girl.” She added: “My parents were very strict. They didn’t want me going out and I rebelled and started sneaking out and getting bad grades. My parents spoke to a therapist who recommended these schools. I later found out that this therapist and many others receive commissions sending children to these places.”

Paris’ parents paid for a “kidnapping” style transportation to the school for her, similar to what we see students go through in the Netflix doc at Ivy Ridge. She explained men arrived at 4:30am and she was put in handcuffs, with “no idea” what was going on.

Paris Hilton, Ivy Ridge, The Program Cons Cults and Kidnapping, Netflix

via Netflix

Paris Hilton called her time there ‘the most traumatising experience I ever went through in my life’

On a few occasions, Paris Hilton has spoken out about her experiences at Provo Canyon. Speaking to Sky News, she claimed she was forced to submit to cervical exams, force-fed medication, and was “locked in this tiny cell with blood stains on the wall.”

“It was like something out of a horror film,” she said. “It’s like they enjoyed abusing children.” Speaking to Washington Post, Paris went into much more detail about the abuse she faced there, and said it was “the most traumatising experience I ever went through in my life.”

She said: “I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused. My peers around me were being sexually abused. I was strangled. I was hit. I was cut off from the outside world. I couldn’t tell my family because any time I tried to say anything on the phone they would hang up and I would get punished. It was the most traumatising experience I ever went through in my life, and to this day I have severe PTSD because of it.”

In her autobiography, Paris: The Memoir, Paris alleged she was woken in the middle of the night by male staff at the school, and led to a private room, where they forced her to submit to cervical exams. She said she was “treated like a criminal” and as an adult, she can now see what she went through was sexual abuse. She claimed staff watched her shower and get changed, which was “dehumanising on all levels.”

In response to the allegations, Provo Canyon’s owners told Sky News the school was sold in 2000 and they cannot comment on the operations or student experience prior to that time. But that they do not condone or promote any form of abuse.

Paris said her parents had “no idea” what sort of place they were sending her to, and “were deceived” like many other parents of students at the schools. “My parents thought I was going to a normal boarding school where I was going to be taken care of and healed, and instead so many terrible things happened that I didn’t even want to think about it again because it was way too painful,” she told The Washington Post.

What is Paris Hilton doing with her experiences now?

Paris Hilton, Ivy Ridge, The Program Cons Cults and Kidnapping, Netflix

via Netflix

During The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping, Paris Hilton is seen on the news, at rallies, and supporting the survivors of Ivy Ridge. This is because Paris has become a huge part of the movement to close down schools like this.

Through her work, she’s helped introduce new laws in Utah to put limits on the use of restraints, drugs and isolation rooms in youth treatment programmes.

The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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