Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for cases of human trafficking.
Public education efforts are underway for National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services says it investigated 143 reports of trafficking last year, many of which were child victims.
Trafficking can happen with labor, but sex trafficking is a large component; Rockford is one of the state’s largest hubs for sex trafficking.
However, Veronica Resa, with DCFS, says incidents can occur just about anywhere.
“Human trafficking can happen in any town in any city, urban or rural, both big and small, and in the neighborhoods where these children are from," she said.
She says there are trends among trafficked children to watch out for.
“For instance, if they have a history of running away or are currently on the run, all of a sudden they have expensive clothing and jewelry and manicures," she says. "They can be found in really bizarre situations around hotels or motels. And they seem to have no control over their credentials, or money, or what they do.”
Resa says Interstates 39, 80, 88, and 90 are common roadways where the practice is spread.