They're called the Little Barbies.
Children, young girls--some as young as 9 years old--are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old.
This is America's dirty little secret.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, "Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day."
Sex trafficking--especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls--has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.
As investigative journalist Amy Fine Collins notes, "It's become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day."
Consider this: every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry.
According to USA Today, adults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.
Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life.
"They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse," writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.
In Georgia alone, it is estimated that 7,200 men (half of them in their 30s) seek to purchase sex with adolescent girls each month, averaging roughly 300 a day.
It is estimated that at least 100,000 children--girls and boys--are bought and sold for sex in the U.S. every year, with as many as 300,000 children in danger of being trafficked each year. Some of these children are forcefully abducted, others are runaways, and still others are sold into the system by relatives and acquaintances.
"Human trafficking--the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, or street prostitution--is on its way to becoming one of the worst crimes in the U.S.," said prosecutor Krishna Patel.
This is not a problem found only in big cities.
It's happening everywhere, right under our noses, in suburbs, cities and towns across the nation.