Illinois officials are ramping up efforts to quash human trafficking. According to a 2018 report by the Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force, the state ranks 9th in the nation for the number of human trafficking cases. Illinois has had significant gaps in developing methods to combat the issues as well as in available data. The current state budget includes more money for prevention and awareness training for kids and therapy for teenage victims of sex trafficking cases. Governor J.B. Pritzker says the Illinois hotel industry is the first place to start looking for potential victims. Pritzker, who is heir to the Hyatt Hotel chain, said that starting this year hotel workers in the state will be required to take mandatory training on spotting potential human trafficking cases in the state’s hotels and motels. Large sporting events and other major tourist events are when the cases are most likely to happen. 1 in 3 teens will be solicited by a pimp within 48 hours of running away and the average age of entry into prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old.
Congressman Darin LaHood also recently held a summit in Quincy with local leaders on the issue to let them know about current cases in the area and to put services together to combat the problem. LaHood says he has sponsored about 10 pieces of legislation at the federal level that provide grants to law enforcement for resources to combat the issue as well as stiffen penalties for perpetrators of the crime.
For tips and more information about human trafficking, visit the Department of Child and Family Services website or if you suspect a child is a victim of human trafficking, call 911 and the DCFS Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-2873.