January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is partnering with the Power Project to train group home and residential care facility staff across Illinois on how to identify, intervene, and prevent human trafficking among their youth in treatment. Nearly 1,000 congregate care staff in 37 facilities across the state completed sexual exploitation training in 2022. Governor JB Pritzker says that this is something that doesn’t just happen in big cities.
Governor JB Pritzker spoke on the topic and urges Illinoisans to be aware of all of the signs.
A trafficked child might have an adult control them by speaking for them, seem out of place given the time of day or night, look discheveled or dressed in clothes that they could not afford to buy, they could show signs of physical abuse such as bruising or red marks, not possess any identification, or be performing inappropriate work for their age.
Often, victims of human trafficking do not seek help as they are fearful, ashamed, distrust law enforcement, or become dependent on the perpetrator. The Illinois Safe Children Act assures that children who are coerced into trafficking are innocent and immune from criminal prosecution.
Anyone who believes a child might have been trafficked or is in danger, should immediately call 9-1-1 and the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873).