The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is launching a new campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking. DFCS is partnering with the FBI as well as local sheriffs and state’s attorneys to teach Illinois residents how to spot signs of trafficking, as well as where to go to get help. DCFS acting director Bobbi Gregg believes this is a growing problem that deserves more attention from Illinois residents.
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“These perpetrators pose as caretakers,” Gregg said. “They offer a place to live, and what looks to these young people like someone who cares. But we know better, and we’re educating our youth to know better as well.” Gregg says a common misconception is that trafficking involves only people brought over from foreign countries, but law enforcement has emphasized that children in Illinois are being lured by traffickers and forced into prostitution—sometimes out of facilities run by DCFS. “We had cases where we would drop kids off at facilities—and DCFS can’t lock them in—and we had at least two cases I’m painfully aware of where the trafficker would send another girl into the group home to drag the girl out,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Signs of human trafficking should be reported by calling 911 or the DCFS child abuse hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.