As Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children points out, "The only way not to find this in any American city is simply not to look for it."
It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged child sex workers in the U.S.
Every year, the girls being bought and sold gets younger and younger.
Social media makes it all too easy for young people to be preyed upon by sexual predators.
As one news center reported, "Finding girls is easy for pimps. They look on MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks. They and their assistants cruise malls, high schools and middle schools. They pick them up at bus stops. On the trolley. Girl-to-girl recruitment sometimes happens." Foster homes and youth shelters have also become prime targets for traffickers.
With a growing demand for sexual slavery and an endless supply of girls and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a problem that's going away anytime soon.
In fact, this growing evil is, for all intents and purposes, out in the open: trafficked women and children are advertised on the internet, transported on the interstate, and bought and sold in swanky hotels.
Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government's war on sex trafficking--much like the government's war on terrorism, drugs and crime--has become a perfect excuse for inflicting more police state tactics (police check points, searches, surveillance, and heightened security) on a vulnerable public, while doing little to make our communities safer.
So what can you do?
Educate yourselves and your children about this growing menace in our communities.
Stop feeding the monster: Sex trafficking is part of a larger continuum in America that runs the gamut from homelessness, poverty, and self-esteem issues to sexualized television, the glorification of a pimp/ho culture--what is often referred to as the pornification of America--and a billion-dollar sex industry built on the back of pornography, music, entertainment, etc.
This epidemic is largely one of our own making, especially in a corporate age where the value placed on human life takes a backseat to profit. It is estimated that the porn industry brings in more money than Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.
Call on your city councils, elected officials and police departments to make the battle against sex trafficking a top priority, more so even than the so-called war on terror and drugs and the militarization of law enforcement.
Stop prosecuting adults for victimless "crimes" such as growing lettuce in their front yard and focus on putting away the pimps and buyers who victimize these young women.
Finally, the police need to do a better job of training, identifying and responding to these issues; communities and social services need to do a better job of protecting runaways, who are the primary targets of traffickers; legislators need to pass legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers and "johns," the buyers who drive the demand for sex slaves; and hotels need to stop enabling these traffickers, by providing them with rooms and cover for their dirty deeds.
That so many women and children continue to be victimized, brutalized and treated like human cargo is due to three things: one, a consumer demand that is increasingly lucrative for everyone involved--except the victims; two, a level of corruption so invasive on both a local and international scale that there is little hope of working through established channels for change; and three, an eerie silence from individuals who fail to speak out against such atrocities.