stressed young woman (l) photos of when woman was a teenager (m) (r)


‘I was gone for 2 years’: Woman recounts harrowing experience in the ‘troubled teen’ industry

‘None of my friends knew where I was.’


Charlotte Colombo


A TikTok telling the story of one user’s stint in the “troubled teen industry” has gone hugely viral across the app, amassing 19.9 million views at the time of writing.

The troubled teen industry is an umbrella term used to refer to private residential programs that work to modify the behavior of teenagers through strict rules, a “boot camp”-like environment, and intensive therapy. Over the years, public figures like Bhad Bhabie and Paris Hilton have spoken out about the conditions in these kinds of residential centers, alleging that their practices are abusive.

This has led to countless TikTokers telling their own stories about their experiences—and user Maggie Higgins, in her 17-second video, shares a montage of photos from her time at the facility along with on-screen text where she talks about what she experienced.

@maggiehiggins4 forgotten teen #greenscreen #ScreamItOut #troubledteenindustry #trinityteensolutions #TurboTaxAndRelax ♬ mr. forgettable – david kushner

“When they came to pick me up in October 2011, I thought I would be gone for 3 months maximum,” she explained. “I was sad that I would miss Christmas. I was gone for two years.”

Adding that she only had 15-minute phone call a week with her parents, Higgins also alleges that staff listened to all her phone calls and read all her letters.

“None of my friends knew where I was,” she added. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

The TikTok, which Higgins captioned “forgotten teen,” has amassed 2.8 million likes. Since Hilton went public with her own experiences in the facility, she started the “Breaking Code Silence” campaign to push legislators to bring new regulations to the troubled teen industry and encourage other people to talk about their experiences. This led to the #breakingcodesilence TikTok tag amassing 385.5 million views, with the tag filled with testimonies from other troubled teens.

As the Daily Dot reported in June: “Many of these practices were originally developed as part of a cult known as Synanon in the 1960s, and, according to many survivors and experts, amount to brainwashing; all designed to break the child down and produce a new, compliant child who meets parental expectations.”

Higgins did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment via Instagram direct message.

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The Daily Dot