Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow today contributed $5,000 to Reclaim13, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the cycle of sexual exploitation and human trafficking—the practice of exploiting adults and children for use as commodities in conditions of sexual and labor servitude. Glasgow made the contribution on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, observed each year on January 11 during Human Trafficking Month, at the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center. Every year since 2010, the President has dedicated the month of January to raise awareness about human trafficking and educate the public about how to identify and prevent this crime.
“Human trafficking is a horrible, nearly $100 billion criminal industry where people profit from the imposed misery and forced servitude of other people,” Glasgow said. “We must do everything we can as a community to raise awareness of sexual exploitation, and to protect children from the cycle that potentially leads to further victimization and trafficking. That cycle often begins with sexual abuse to a child, who then becomes more vulnerable to trafficking.”
Reclaim13 provides critically important education and prevention programs addressing sexual exploitation. The nonprofit organization also operates Cherish House, a long-term, trauma informed, residential treatment facility, or “safe house,” for trafficked girls ages 10 to 17. This specialized resource provides physical safety and a loving environment where girls are supported by highly experienced staff as they gain the skills they need to live a productive life beyond exploitation. In 2020, Reclaim13 established Courage House, a transitional facility with programming for young adult aged 18-25 established to address the specialized needs of sexually exploited children transitioning into young adulthood. These surroundings facilitate their next steps in development and help these girls to further reclaim their paths of hope and healing.
“Thirteen is the age when a child is especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation, and ‘reclaim’ is literally what we do. Our mission is to save children impacted by sexual exploitation so they can reclaim their lives,” stated Reclaim13 founder, clinical psychologist Dr. Cassandra Ma, who developed the nonprofit’s exploitation-prevention curriculum based upon clinical experience and research to equip children, parents, and communities with information they need to be aware of sexual abuse and exploitation. “Through education aimed at preventing exploitation, programs focused on healing, community engagement, and nurturing transitional housing, we provide a holistic approach as we work to end the cycle of exploitation.”
The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center, established by Glasgow in 1995 to provide hope, healing, and justice to victims of child sexual abuse, provides specialized case management, support, and advocacy to youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation through a grant from the National Children’s Alliance. The CAC’s Child Sexual Exploitation Victim Advocate provides crisis intervention and ongoing case management services to exploited youth.
“As society has learned more about trauma and its impact on both the mind and the body, we have recognized the critical role of counseling, education, and support in helping abused youngsters go on to lead productive lives,” Glasgow said. “Programs like those offered by Reclaim13 and the Will County CAC help these children focus on healing and give them the opportunity for a positive and productive life despite the trauma they endured.”
The State’s Attorney’s contribution to Reclaim13 was funded entirely with money forfeited by criminals, without the use of any taxpayer dollars.