- That the sexual exploitation of children is child abuse and that exploited youth are victims — not delinquents
- That freedom from abuse and exploitation is a basic human right and we continually strive to provide the highest standard of care to the children and families that come to the Center.
Each year, the Will County Children's Advocacy Center responds to approximately 375 reports of child sexual abuse and 40 reports of severe physical abuse. Of those, 45-60 are indicated as child sexual exploitation victims by the Department of Illinois Children and Family Services.
Thanks to an "Expanding Access to Children’s Advocacy Centers’ Resources and Services for Victims of Child Pornography" grant from the National Children's Alliance, we provide specialized case management, support, and advocacy to youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. Our Child Sexual Exploitation Victim Advocate provides crisis intervention and ongoing case management services to exploited youth, and assists them in getting basic needs met, advocating across a wide variety of situations, and supporting youth in actualizing their goals.
According to the National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction Threat Assessment Survey (2010), there are troubling links between those who exploit children by collecting and trading in sexually abusive images and those who are hands-on abusers. Interviewees reported the following links between child pornography and contact offenses:
- 83% of respondents reported that stimulation from child pornography images drive some child pornography offenders to engage in contact offenses with children.
- 64% of respondents reported that child pornography desensitizes viewers and makes them more likely to engage in contact offenses or they become more curious and develop a desire for more than just images, which drives them to engage in contact offenses.
While the Will County Children's Advocacy Center has been highly successful in the traditional, reactive approach of providing services to children who have made an outcry of sexual abuse or who have been referred by a law enforcement or child services investigation, our collaborative partnership with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Crimes Against Children Unit provides us with the tools to now be proactive. In other words, it allows us to identify and help children before they make an outcry or a law enforcement/child services investigation has begun.
The Will County State’s Attorney’s High Tech Crimes Against Children Unit was created by State’s Attorney Glasgow in 2012 to track down and prosecute those who produce, distribute, and/or download child pornography on the Internet. The unit has investigated more than 100 child pornography cases, and its conviction rate for cases that have been adjudicated is 100%.
Roughly 1/3 of the cases involved “contact offenses” in which the defendant had either sexually abused a child or contacted children online to exploit them.
In 2016, the unit acquired “Cache” an electronics detection canine that is deployed during the execution of search warrants to locate hidden devices that may contain digital images of child pornography, which are then inspected onsite for child pornography by forensic investigators.
Once the onsite arrest is made, the investigators determine if the suspect has access to children through family, community, schools, faith-based organizations, or other associations. Those children are then immediately identified and referred to the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Thanks to a grant from the National Children's Alliance, the Will County Children's Advocacy Center is convening a county-wide, multidisciplinary anti-child sexual exploitation coalition comprised of the following:
- Will County State’s Attorney: Crimes Against Children Unit
- Will County Sheriff
- Will County Regional School Superintendent
- Will County Health Department
- Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
- Media representatives
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties
For more information, or to join the coalition, contact Child Pornography & Exploitation Advocate Cruz Arzuaga at 815/774-4570 - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help us continue to provide hope, healing & justice for abused children.
Last year, the Will County Children's Advocacy Center served more than 430 Will County children (and their non-offending family members) who were sexually abused, severely physically abused, or who had witnessed a violent crime.
Children who have been victimized and receive program services at the Will County CAC, are less likely to: abuse drugs or alcohol, grow up to become victims of domestic violence, become involved in some sort of criminal activity, suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or develop suicidal ideation and self-harm.
Your financial gift can make a profound difference in changing a child’s life.