Human trafficking of children in Illinois: Prevalence and characteristics

Judy Havlicek, Shannon Huston, Seth Boughton, Saijun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Not much is known about the prevalence or characteristics of children who come to the attention of child protection systems for human trafficking. This study used administrative data from the Illinois Department of Children and Families Services (DCFS) to compare the prevalence of investigated allegations of human trafficking with the investigated allegations of other types of maltreatment and to describe the characteristics of children with an allegation of human trafficking. From July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015, there were 563 (0.0008%) investigated allegations of human trafficking compared with a total of 697,062 investigated allegations for all other types of maltreatment. These 563 allegations represented 419 children who were predominantly female (90%), African American (53%), residing in a large urban county (56%), and 14–1/2-years-old, on average. Just under two thirds (61%) had a previous investigated allegation of maltreatment in their case record, and just over one quarter (28%) had at least one entry into out-of-home care prior to, during, and/or after an allegation of human trafficking. These exploratory findings are discussed in the context of federal and state human trafficking laws for minors that have sought to raise awareness of human trafficking in the U.S., and enhance the ability of child welfare systems to identify and serve this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Child welfare
  • Human trafficking of children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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