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Raising Awareness about Human Trafficking in Central Illinois

The location between Chicago, St. Louis, puts the area in a trafficking corridor

PEORIA, Ill. - A campaign aimed a shining a light on slavery and human trafficking hits close to home.

Human trafficking is not an issue we often hear about in central Illinois, but the Pediatric Resource Center in Peoria says it happens. Our position between Chicago and St. Louis, with highway systems connecting the two, puts us in a corridor for trafficking.

It's why the center is helping to bring that movement here, showing support on social media by changing profile pictures to a symbolic red x. 55% of victims are women and children and 1 in 5 is under the age of 18.

The PRC says it's important to be on alert and if a situation doesn't seem right, there are several ways to help out. 

"It's very hard for them also to ask for help, sometimes they'll deny being a victim, and so it's hard to get them help sometimes, but the sooner we can help them, the better off they will be," Dr. Channing Petrak, Medical Director of the Pediatric Resource Center, said. "You have to be a little bit creative in asking if they need help so a lot of times notes are left in bathrooms to say do you need help or just alert the authorities and they intervene."

Different Industries that come across trafficking more frequently, like truck drivers and the airlines, are starting to get training on how to identify and report it.

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