January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, which aims to remind Illinois residents that human trafficking could be happening in their own communities. According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the agency investigated 225 allegations of human trafficking of children in Fiscal Year 2019.
In 2018, a task force of Illinois legislators issued a report on the crisis stating: “According to a 2018 Human Trafficking Statistical Summary published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Adams School of Social Work, the top venues for sex trafficking in Illinois were hotels, residence-based commercial sex, illicit massage businesses, escort services, and online ads. The top venues for labor trafficking were traveling sales crews, domestic work, agriculture, retail, and begging rings. Between December 2007 and December 2017, 1,148 human trafficking cases, consisting of 2,832 identified trafficked persons and survivors in Illinois, were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”
DCFS says these are signs or indicators of possible child trafficking:
• Having an adult control them by speaking for them;
• Seeming out of place given the time of day or night;
• Looking disheveled or dressed in clothes that they could not afford to buy;
• Showing signs of physical abuse such as bruising or red marks;
• Not possessing any form of identification;
• Performing inappropriate work for their age and not being compensated.
The Illinois DCFS hotline to report child abuse and neglect, including suspected trafficking, is 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline is 1-888-373-7888.