The “shaming” tactic can take several forms. One method is to publicize the identities of arrested johns through news outlets, police websites and/or billboards. In some communities, citizens initiate and maintain websites identifying johns. Well over half of all cities and counties that arrest sex buyers publicize offender identities through media outlets and/or police websites. Currently, 555 of the 932 cities and counties that are known to have conducted reverse stings have broadcast offender identities.
The second shaming tactic involves sending a letter to the address of the registered auto owners, alerting owners that their car was seen in an area known for prostitution. Alternatively, letters may be sent to the home addresses of men arrested in reverse stings. The letters usually include warnings citing health risks for johns, their wives and other partners, and the harm of commercial sex to communities and survivors.
The use of letters intended to alert those living with known or suspected sex buyers is relatively rare, with just 42 communities known to employ this tactic. Information about this approach is presented in the webpage for the tactic, “Letters.”
To learn more about this intervention, access the resources below.
Overview of Shaming Tactics Applied to Sex Buyers in the U.S.
- Shaming Overview from National Assessment (PDF, 491 KB)
City Council Motion Authorizing Shaming of Arrested Sex Buyers
- Cincinnati City Council Motion (PDF, 82.2KB)
Police Press Releases
- Bakersfield CA Information About Arrestees (PDF, 0.9 KB)
- Chelsea, MA Police Press Release (Word, 0.1 KB)
- Costa Mesa, CA Police Press Release (PDF, 25.1KB)
- Federal Way, WA Police Press Release (PDF, 73.3KB)
- Galveston, TX Police Press Release – With Photos (PDF, 576.5KB)
- Mount Laurel, NJ Police Press Release (PDF, 26.1KB)
Police/District Attorney Website Displays of Arrested Sex Buyers
Billboards Displaying Identities of Arrested Sex Buyers
News Reports Identifying Arrested Sex Buyers
- Corpus Christie, TX. Print report and link to television spot that displayed arrested men’s photos.
- Newport News, VA. Report with names, ages, photos, and addresses of men arrested for soliciting during a reverse sting:
- San Bernardino County, CA. Print and video reports on the District Attorney’s Office “Stop the Johns” project
- Saunders, D. (2013). DA’s Stop the Johns Program to Shame Sex Solicitors. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, April 3.
Editorials and Debates about Shaming Sex Buyers
- Should cities shame johns by putting their faces on billboards, television, and the internet after their arrest?
- The Men Who Buy — and Sell — Sex (New York Times)
- Cities turn to humiliation to fight prostitution (Christian Science Monitor)
- The shame page (Chicago Tribune)
- John TV considered in Topeka
- New Haven, CT “John of the Week” Campaign
Media Ads with Arrestee Identities
News Reports on Running Media Ads with Arrestee Identities
- West Palm Beach, FL, 1992: