by Mary C. Piemonte
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office recently launched an “Our Children Are Not for Sale” awareness campaign asking the public to alert law enforcement and DCFS when they believe a child is a victim of human trafficking.
According to their May 20, 2014, press release, they are doing this so that the officials can connect the youth “with services and work to ensure that the perpetrators of this outrageous crime are brought to justice.”
“In 2010, Illinois became one of the first states to pass comprehensive legislation to address the human trafficking of children under the age of 18,” the release continued. “Under the Illinois Safe Children Act, children who are coerced into prostitution are immune from criminal prosecution and are diverted to the child protection system with DCFS instead of the criminal justice system.”
Additionally, the press release states that “County Sheriff Tom Dart launched the Cook County Sheriff’s Child Protection Response Unit in October 2012, and the unit has since recovered over 300 runaway juveniles, most of whom fled group homes. The 300th was rescued on April 2, 2014.”
If anyone suspects a child is a victim of human trafficking, they should call 911 and the DCFS Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.
For a U.S. Department of Homeland Security training brochure defining human trafficking, how to identify potential victims and perpetrators and what to do to seek help, click here.