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Somebody's Daughter: The Hidden Story of America's Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them Hardcover – January 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The sex trade is the new drug trade," writes Sher (Caught in the Web), who draws attention to the 300,000 American minors trafficked and prostituted each year in his thorough, deeply affecting study. Scaffolding his arguments on the narratives of two such children--Maria, a former prostitute "turned out" at the age of 13, and Felicia, who became involved with her pimp at 14--Sher follows how young people, frequently runaways, find themselves in the clutches of predatory adults. He introduces the reader to the networks of rescue organizations that offer succor and the law enforcement agencies that too frequently victimize the children further, prosecuting prostitutes rather than their pimps or johns. He also studies how representations of pimping in pop culture (from Grand Theft Auto IV to rapper Ice-T's film Pimpin') normalize--even glamorize--exploitation. While the horror stories of the young girls "in the life" are vividly recounted, the author depicts them with sensitivity and respect; and his book strikes a rare balance between revealing trauma and hope, and between the stories of abused children and their advocates. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Sher takes on the story of teen prostitution in the U.S. by primarily focusing on three cities, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Dallas. His interview subjects include a small group of teens who explain how they came to prostitution and how they broke out of it. He also talks to police officers investigating vice crimes as well as lawyers, judges, and survivors of the sex trade now working to rescue other victims. Interspersed with these personal stories are discussions of statistics regarding gender, age, and recidivism. The situations are alternately sad or graphically violent, but always tragic. Sher clearly has a great deal of empathy for his interview subjects, and is at his most gripping when writing about their decisions to stand up against former pimps. He also writes in detail about the glamorized pimp image and how it has flooded pop culture (Ice T’s career is particularly ironic). --Colleen Mondor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569765650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569765654
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Sher is an award-winning investigative journalist and the author of six books. He is currently a writer for Canada's national newspaper, the Globe and Mail.

His most recent book, "Somebody's Daughter: The Hidden Story of America's Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them," was hailed by Norma Ramos, director of Coalition of Trafficking Against Women, as "the most definitive account of sex trafficking of children in the United States." Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) called it "riveting and disturbing ...also uplifting and helpful."

His previous book, "Caught in the Web: Inside the Police Hunt to Rescue Children from Online Predators" was praised by Senator John Kerry as "a must-read for parents, policy makers, prosecutors, and anyone who cares about our kids."

His analysis and reporting on child abuse has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today and Readers' Digest. He has addressed conferences of educators, parents, child care advocates, prosecutors, police and judges.

He also co-wrote two best-selling books on biker gangs.

Julian has also filmed, written and produced major documentaries across the globe, covering wars, corruption and human rights in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Russia, Europe and the Middle East. In 2006, he directed a New York Times-CBC TV investigation called "Nuclear Jihad" which won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.

For more information, see www.juliansher.com
Follow Julian on Facebook at www.facebook.com/juliansher
And on Twitter @juliansher

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By dwood78 on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As Americans, we often hear stories of teenage girls & young women being trafficked into our country from Latin America & Eastern Europe. Yet the dirty little secret is most trafficked kids in our country are American-born- our daughters.

The author, a Canadian investigative journalist exposes this in his book. We are taken into a world of the child sex trade. One victim, a Latina the author calls "Maria" is a big focus in this book. Maria, a runaway who found herself going between Las Vegas & Atlantic City risked her own life to help the Feds take down her pimp. She was lucky to eventually get out as a some of teenage girls profiled here meet a tragic end.

The book is also critical of how the legal system treats prostitutes as opposed to some the European countries, which while legalize the trade also made it illegal to sell someone else's body for sex-thus making it easy to go after pimps. Whereas in America, we still focus too much on going after the prostitutes, rather than getting the johns & pimps that use them. & let's not talk about how our pop culture glorifies pimps (remember the Oscar winning song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"?)

That said, this is a real page turner. At times chilling, esp. the accounts on how some of these girls got abused by their pimps. This book is a must read in order to understand the truth about child trafficking within our own borders.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca on April 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book, Somebody's Daughter, compelling and shocking at the same time. I did not realize that child exploitation is as prevalent in my own city of Dallas, and nationally. I found this book to be both engrossing and well-written. Julian Sher's style of writing was anecdotal, mixed with facts and sttistical data. He covered several geographical areas in the USA as well as the advocates/law enforcement who try and help them. I truly cared for the child victims and those who are trying to save them.
I felt that this book helped me to face my own bias and misinformed beliefs, that mirror the majority of Americans. I feel enlightened and this made me think, where is the outrage?!? I am so glad I stumbled on this book. I hope to contribute in some way to ending prostituted children in America. I gladly give this book 5 stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Greg J. Merchant on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a very well written documentary type book. It pulled back the curtains and left me with a greater understanding of what really goes on in the exploitation of children in the sex trade. Many of the stories were not far from home, literally. The book is filled with engaging stories from all different angles. The author obviously had a lot of interaction with the people that know how all this works very well. The interesting thing about this book is that it's all about American kids being lured into prostitution in America which is a different view than many of the tales a person hears about trafficking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sara E. Davies on September 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book reads more like "true crime" than an academic sociological analysis, which was not what I expected. I had mixed feelings about treating such a serious topic in a manner that could launch a Hollywood script. However, this very treatment makes the content both accessible and instantly relatable. And if it ever did become the basis for a redemption story, maybe it could undo some of the damage done by the misconceptions and myths.

Sher provides a down to earth, engrossing account of children forced into prostitution, showing us that for these kids, succumbing to the "protection" of a pimp looks like, and may in fact be, their best available option. He highlights a combination of factors that contribute to the perpetuation of the prostitution of children: societal condemnation, glorification of pimp culture, non-existent / inadequate social services, and the failure of the criminal justice system to recognize and treat "prostituted children" as victims (often 12 - 16 year-old runaways fleeing abusive families) rather than as criminals. To the extent these girls (and women) collude in their own mistreatment, the author does an excellent job of conveying the reason one would remain in a brutalizing, degrading environment: they've got no better place to go. Criminal records and lack of skills make it difficult to climb out of "the life." He also raises the question: Why, if these kids aren't old enough to legally have consensual sex, are they regarded as criminals when they are forced by a criminal to sell sex to a pedophile?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amy J. Cheney on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As the librarian in a Juvenile Hall I have read widely on this topic, and this is fantastic. It's a page turner and compels one to action. Beautifully done. Below is a professional review written for School Library Journal's Adult books for Teens page. [...]
Many fiction and non-fiction books address the topic of child sexual slavery - books such as Living Dead Girl, (Simon Pulse, 2008) Sold (Hyperion, 2008) and most recently, Lloyd's Girls Like Us (Harper, 2011). Few if any books address the men that enslave children. An investigative journalist, Sher gives us an inside look at the men that are commonly called pimps, but - as he articulately details - are unequivocally child molesters and rapists: how they operate, think, manipulate, abuse and exploit. The book gives equal time to all involved; the girl's own stories and experiences are compassionately told, including Maria, raped and beaten by a cousin's boyfriend at age 12, recruited at age 14 into prostitution, courageously keeping her earnings by age 18 while being terrorized by her former enslaver.

Detailing inspiring and hopeful success' Sher outlines what can realistically happen when sexually exploited children are treated as victims and all responsible adults involved - police, prosecution, public defenders, judges, probation and social workers come together to focus on providing real services to the victims and criminalizing those responsible. At the same time, he doesn't minimize how far we have to go.

Teens who are socially conscious, politically active, exploring feminism, society's attitudes towards women, modern day slavery or who enjoy true crime stories that relate to them, such as Lois Duncan's Who Killed My Daughter will love this book. ~ Amy Cheney Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall
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