The “shaming” tactic can take several forms. One method used by over 660 U.S. cities and counties involves publicizing the identities of arrested sex buyers. Methods of dissemination include news outlets, police or district attorney websites, and/or billboards. In some communities, citizens initiate and maintain websites identifying johns. Over 60% of the 1,030 + cities and counties that are known to have conducted reverse stings have publicized offender identities through media outlets and/or police websites.
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 “Dear John” letters intended to alert those living with known or suspected sex buyers is relatively rare, with just 46 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)
- Dayton, OH Police Press Release
- 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 About Communities Identifying Arrested Sex Buyers
- Akron, OH. News report referencing “Operation John-B-Gone” use of police website.
- Corpus Christie, TX. Print report and link to television spot that displayed arrested men’s photos.
- Nassau County, NY (Long Island). Operation “Flush the Johns”
- Newport News, VA. Report with names, ages, photos, and addresses of men arrested for soliciting during a reverse sting:
- Orange County, CA. District Attorney initiative to post johns on website, 2013.
- Reno, NV. Editorial.
- 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.
- Santa Ana & Orange County, CA.
- Yakima, WA. News reports about new shaming effort, beginning June, 2013.
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
- Televised discussion about Nassau County, Long Island “Flush the Johns” campaign (2013)
Media Ads with Arrestee Identities
News Reports on Running Media Ads with Arrestee Identities
- Buffalo, NY, 2013
- West Palm Beach, FL, 1992: