Exploitation of Inner-City Youth

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Child exploitation refers to the act of using children for personal gratification. With exploitation, there is a financial, sexual, and social reward. Many youths become subjects of exploitation by either family members, teachers/mentors, or strangers.

Examples of child abuse and manipulation include using children for cheap labor, child pornography or for personal gratification.

According to reports by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, there have been a total of 38,027 child victims in the report of child abuse and neglect cases for 2019. This is up from the previous year with 34,985 child victims. 

Many cases of child abuse go unsolved. Contributions to long-term child abuse include loyalty to the predator, fear of consequence from the child, and the incompetence of the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (IDCFS) as illustrated by Gov. JB Pritzker.

According to ABC7 News, Gov. Pritzker is establishing “an eight-person crisis intervention team that will convene after the death of a child to review the case and recommend changes. Immediate changing more training for caseworkers, who have the difficult responsibility to determine the fate of a child.” 

The issues that exist within IDCFS have caused many children to be subjected to continued abuse by adults.

In 2018, the Chicago Tribune found that Chicago police conducted 520 cases of juvenile sexual assaults in Chicago Public Schools. According to the mandatory reporting laws in Illinois, certain individuals, called mandated reporters, have to immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect to the IDCFS.

Furthermore, the Chicago Tribune reports that justice is rarely served due to the multiple interrogations that children have to go through during an investigation.

In addition to the long process for justice, it is hard to rely on school staff to report incidents of exploitation when some of them are predators in these situations.

According to the Chicago SunTimes, the district received 923 complaints during the last quarter of the year. In addition to this, the district dismissed 128 employees “after redoing background checks on all employees and volunteers.”

The most popular case of child exploitation in the state of Illinois surrounds singer R. Kelly and his numerous allegations. According to BBC News, Kelly has exploitation and abuse allegations dating back to at least 1994.

Until recently, Kelly has not faced a conviction even though he has been accused of numerous incidents of exploitation and abuse. This delayed conviction is due to both victims and accomplices portraying Kelly as innocent.

The R. Kelly scandal is an example of how difficult it is to convict a person of child exploitation. Kelly’s issues with child exploitation revolve around the singer promising teenage girls, and their families, fame and fortune. The victims then participated in sexual favors in return for their promise to fame. 

Money contributes to child exploitation in a critical way. Many victims of child exploitation come from low-income families. Predators rely on vulnerable people to fulfill their desires. Families are paid money in exchange for the use of their child.

In other examples, family members obtain legal guardianship of a child in order to receive payment from the government (through additional family assistance, cash subsidies, etc.). Because it is difficult for children to recognize and speak up against abuse, exploitation is allowed to continue. 

There are ways to prevent and stop child exploitation. People can report an incident online or through the phone via 1-800-843-5678 to the National National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline. These options allow reporters to remain anonymous while reporting such an incident.

Written by Ciera Johnson
Edited by Jeanette Smith


Chicago Suntimes: 6 CPS workers fired, 33 removed as hundreds of sex misconduct complaints roll in
ABC7: Governor JB Pritzker calls for an overhaul of DCFS Intact Family Services program after the death of AJ Freund
BBC News: R. Kelly: The history of allegations against him
Chicago Tribune: BETRAYED: Chicago schools fail to protect students from sexual abuse and assault, leaving lasting damage,

Featured image Courtesy of  Nick Ares’ Flickr Page – Creative Common License
Top Image Courtesy of Criss Carr’s Flickr Page –  Creative Common License


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