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League February Program on Human Trafficking

Many thanks to the panelists:
-Amy Alvarado, Human Trafficking Specialist, Cook County State's Attorney's Office
-Caleb Probst, Community Engagement, Education and Outreach Associate, CAASE
-Rachel Ostergaard, Manager, Salvation Army STOP-IT Program
and Jennifer Greene, Policy Advisor for the Office of the Cook County State's Attorney--Anita Alvarez, who moderated the outstanding discussion on "Combatting 21st Century Slavery: Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention & Prosecution" on February 21, 2012.

Chicago is designated by the FBI as one of the top cities for child prostitution, but panelists described recent efforts to combat the practice in Illinois. The Illinois Safe Children Act was passed by the general assembly and signed into law in August, 2010. The law decriminalized juvenile prostitution, recognizing that children forced into sex work are victims, and allowed for enhanced techniques to investigate trafficking perpetrators. Greater federal-local collaborative law enforcement efforts are beginning to bring about convictions.

The panelists also described programs to prevent sexual exploitation by attempting to decrease demand. The speakers emphasized that there is a shortage of social services available for the victims. Emergency housing shelters and additional social services would allow more youth to escape from their exploiters and regain their lives.

10 Steps YOU Can Take to Curtail Human Trafficking

1. Help end demand by using the tool kits available from the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE).

2. Encourage your local high school to incorporate CAASE's education program for young men.

3. Encourage local social service agencies to be trained on human trafficking. Information is available through The International Organization for Adolescents.

4. Support fundraising efforts of direct service organizations working against trafficking.

5. Monitor pending legislation on this issue. Tell your elected officials officials what you think.

6. Encourage law enforcement to screen prostituted people for trafficking and offer supportive services as an alternative to jail/arrest.

7. Encourage companies you do business with to create and enforce anti-slavery policies. For example, see the US Dept. of Labor's List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.

8. Support an individual victim by sponsoring a Salvation Army STOP-IT program client (contact info below).

9. Contact journalists to write stories on the issue.

10. Ask your local police what they are doing to combat human trafficking.

Useful Links for More Information about Human Trafficking

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE)

Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph--located in La Grange Park, IL, offer volunteer opportunities

Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force 1-page Fact Sheet

End Demand Illinois Campaign--a program of CAASE, ability to sign up to receive action alerts

The International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA)

The Polaris Project--confidential hotline to report trafficking, also other resources

The Salvation Army STOP-IT program--note the wish list!

The Salvation Army has additional programs dealing with trafficking in Illinois and nationally. See them here