Last month, Associate Attorney Matt DiMaio traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for reform of the Troubled Teen Industry. The Troubled Teen Industry, sometimes abbreviated as “TTI,” is a term used to describe facilities for children deemed “troubled youth.” The TTI is an umbrella term for various behavior modification programs including boot camps, wilderness therapy, secured group homes, teen ranches, reform schools, emotional growth boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, conversion therapy, religious boarding schools, and residential treatment centers, among others.
During his trip, Matt met with staff of federal legislators to discuss forthcoming federal legislation, The Stop Institutional Child Abuse Act (“SICAA”). He also met with institutional abuse survivors to learn about their unique experiences as well as attended a press conference and vigil organized by Paris Hilton in support of SICAA. The vigil focused on the remembrance of over 350 report child deaths within youth residential facilities.
Paris Hilton, an entrepreneur, model, actress, and survivor of the TTI organized and participated at the press conference and vigil to bring greater attention to the shortcomings and horrors of this billion dollar industry. Her activism began in 2020 after she bravely recounted her past experience at a TTI program in her Youtube Originals documentary, “This is Paris.” In coming forward and using her platform to publicly share her story, Paris has empowered and inspired others to talk about their experiences at TTI programs. The survivor community is #BreakingCodeSilence and now demanding that TTI programs be held accountable, be better regulated, and in some cases, be shut down if the program is particularly egregious.
Matt’s involvement with the TTI movement began last year when he first learned about the abusive practices often employed by many TTI programs. This information and awareness prompted him to become an ally to those negatively impacted by the industry. As a result, Matt has developed a relationship with Paris Hilton’s team, as well as Unsilenced, a nonprofit fighting TTI and supporting TTI survivors. In his advocacy efforts, Matt hopes to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those negatively affected by the TTI. Matt’s advocacy efforts are done in his personal time and not in his capacity as an employee of Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel LLP.