Today, two cultural forces are converging to make America's youth easy targets for sex traffickers. Younger and younger girls are engaging in adult sexual attitudes and practices, and the pressure to conform means thousands have little self-worth and are vulnerable to exploitation. At the same time, thanks to social media, texting, and chatting services, predators are able to ferret out their victims more easily than ever before. In Walking Prey, advocate and former victim Holly Austin Smith shows how middle class suburban communities are fast becoming the new epicenter of sex trafficking in America. Smith speaks from experience: neglected by her alcoholic parents at 14, she was ripe for exploitation. A chance encounter with an older man led her to run away from home, and she soon found herself on the streets of Atlantic City. Her experience led her two decades later to become one of the foremost advocates for trafficking victims. Smith argues that these young women should be treated as victims by law enforcement, but that too often the criminal justice system helps to trap them in a vicious cycle of prostitution. This is a clarion call to take a sharp look at one of the most striking human rights abuses, and one that is going on in our own backyard.
Holly Austin Smith is an advocate for human trafficking victims who speaks about her own experience nationwide. Her story has been featured on Dr. Oz, as well as in Associated Press, Richmond Times Dispatch, Cosmopolitan magazine, and Dallas Morning News. Smith writes a weekly column for The Washington Times, and she has testified before Congress. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.