Webinar Examines Sexual Exploitation of Girls by Gangs

CHICAGO– Although gangs are a chronic problem in many urban and suburban areas of the nation, this city included, certain aspects of gang life don’t receive the attention – and therefore the resources – necessary to combat them. In particular, the sexual exploitation of girls by gangs is a serious problem currently facing law enforcement, courts, educators and social service programs across the country, according to a panel that met this week to discuss the issue. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention presented a webinar Wednesday through the Missing and Exploited Children’s Program to address promising practices for targeting the commercial sexual exploitation of girls in gangs. The webinar built on MECP’s June presentation about exploitation by offering organizations and individuals suggestions for internal practices and appropriate interaction with victims.

“The top thing that sexually abused, victimized girls say they want in treatment and in custody is someone to talk to,” said speaker Keith Burt, a retired deputy district attorney and former Chief of the Gang Prosecution Division in San Diego. “Someone they feel they can trust, that they can just talk to.”

Although the speakers acknowledged males and transgender individuals suffer from sexual exploitation by gangs, the victims are overwhelmingly female.

Illinois Enacts Law Against ‘Epidemic’ of Human Trafficking

By  Maryam Jameel and Natalie Krebs 

Illinois strengthened its legal arsenal against human trafficking this weekend when Gov. Pat Quinn signed House Bill 5278 into law. The new legislation aims to provide further protection and services for trafficking victims while also allowing prosecutors to crack down on pimps and other offenders. The law applies to both minors and adults, and shares a number of similarities with the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, passed in 2000. The TVPA and its subsequent reauthorizations created new categories of human trafficking crimes and provided protections and benefits for human trafficking victims. Similarly, the new Illinois law extends the statue of limitations for offenders and broadens the definitions of “serious harm” and “involuntary servitude.”

The signing came a day after the American Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Committee hosted a panel to address the “epidemic” of juvenile sex trafficking in Chicago. While authorities confront traffickers for their offenses, it can be equally difficult to work with trafficked youth, many of whom don’t consider themselves victims of sexual abuse.