Trigger Warning: Abuse, Rape, Suicide 


Her mum was crying by the door and apologizing. Strangers woke her from her sleep and only uttered the words, “You can go with us the easy way or the hard way.” 

At 3:00 am one night, Jessy Greer was awoken by the sound of loud footsteps in her room of people she had never met. The next thing she knew, she was being dragged by a belt out of her room and flown to the middle of nowhere. 

Her life leading up to this incident wasn’t in the best state. She was romantically involved with a drug dealer, spending time with his crowd which eventually lead to her consuming those drugs and partying all the time. Her mum’s last resort was to send her to a behavior modification program called Cross Creek in Laverne, Utah. Her first phone call home was three months later and her parents, early on, were told not to trust anything their child was saying on the phone because they are only trying to “emotionally manipulate” their parents to get them out of the facility.  

The Troubled Teen Industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that claims to rehabilitate delinquents and substance-abusing adolescents. They are fairly unregulated and situated in abandoned areas, especially in the state of Utah where the laws for teenagers are quite restrictive. Their practices are criticized on ethical and legal grounds as it includes child abuse, molestation, and violation of the child’s consent. They hold cult-like seminars and used attack therapies where they would perform rape re-enactments of sexually abused victims and instructed the students in the program to cuss at the victims. Their strategy was to ingrain in the minds of the students that it is their fault that they have landed themselves in unfortunate situations and are being punished for the same.   

“I wanted to believe they were doing more good than harm,” said Ian Demmers, a former Cross Creek staff member. He welled up during his interview with Vice News as he explained what went on inside the facilities. He claimed that children would be locked up for days without being able to talk to anyone. He wanted to believe that the institution was at least legal, and that some authority would come and witness the brutality that was being shown to these children, but nothing ever happened.   

In her documentary ‘I Am Paris’, Paris Hilton narrated the part of her life where she was sent into several of these behavior modification programs where she was mentally and physically abused and from where she eventually ran away. At last, she was sent to the Provo Canyon facility which she claims to be ‘the worst of the worst’. Her baths were supervised by male staff members, and she was strip-searched before entering the facility. She was forcefully prescribed unknown medication and was thrown into solitary confinement when it was revealed that she never consumed them. She witnessed teenagers over there who were basically empty inside and many were on suicide watch. Her parents never knew anything about what happened behind those doors. 

“There was no convincing them (her parents) no matter what I said. So, I just didn’t trust them. It made me not trust anyone. Not even my own family.”  

Paris shared this in her documentary in the context of when she was trying to convince her parents to not send her to another youth detention center.   

#BreakingCodeSilence is a campaign that began in 2014 to encourage survivors of institutional abuse to speak up about the traumatizing incidents they went through and help parents in making better decisions for their children. It was popularized after Paris Hilton’s documentary and many victims came on social media and shared their stories.  

It is referred to as “Breaking Code Silence” because all these victims were silenced for so long and brainwashed to believe that because they made the wrong choices in their lives, they paid the consequences of their actions by being incarcerated by these institutions. The shame that preyed upon them led them to stay silent for so long. But not anymore. 

If you are a parent to a teenager suffering as a delinquent, please do not pursue these options. There are alternatives that will not lead your child into a life of trauma, guilt, and shame.  


Visit for more information, ways you can support the organization, and many other stories of survivors. 


 – Tanvi Kamra, Lotus Valley International School, Noida



(I highly recommend going through these videos and articles to understand the issue in depth) 



  • “I Was Sent to A Therapy Program for Troubled Teens Like Paris Hilton” – As/Is 



  • “Here’s What Survivors of a ‘Troubled Teen’ Program Say Went on Inside” – Vice News 



  • “Paris Hilton Shares her Survivor Story from Teenage Abuse at Provo Canyon” – Paris Hilton 



  • Breaking Code Silence Network 



  • “#BreakingCodeSilence: The Truth About The Troubled Teen Industry” – Youth Central 



  • “The Shadow Penal System for Struggling Kids” – New Yorker 



  • “Troubled teen industry” – Wikipedia 
















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