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Human Trafficking Education Program Expanding at Peoria-Area Schools

Tim Shelley / WCBU
Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Ameren Illinois Peoria Division Director Brian Brackney, and Carol Merna

A $20,000 grant from Ameren Illinois will allow the Center for Prevention of Abuse to continue and expand its human trafficking education programs in area schools. 

The program started with a pilot at Manual Academy last year. It’s since expanded to 7 area schools and more than 600 students. The grant will help that education expand to three more schools. 

Carol Merna is the executive director of the Center for Prevention of Abuse. 

“One in 4 victims of human trafficking are children. And we thought it important through our human trafficking department, and also thankfully our prevention education department, to really fit in a human trafficking curriculum," she said. 

Merna said the curriculum is tailored to be age-appropriate and evidence-based. It includes teaching children about red flags, warning signs of unhealthy relationships, and the tactics and venues human traffickers use for recruitment.