Shaming

One method used in over 2,200 U.S. cities and counties involves publicizing the identities of arrested sex buyers. The “shaming” tactic can take many forms. Methods of dissemination include news outlets, police or district attorney websites, social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), and/or billboards. In some communities, citizens initiate and maintain websites identifying sex buyers (e.g., Columbus, OH; Oklahoma City, OK). In June 2019, the Governor of Florida signed a bill into law the created a registry of convicted sex buyers and provides a publicly accessible listing of identifying information, including the full legal names, last known addresses, color photos, and criminal history. Through the implementation of the new law, convicted sex buyers in all communities in Florida are potentially subject to having their identities publicly disclosed through the state registry. More information about the Soliciting Prostitution Public Database can be found HERE.  

Another tactic that can be considered “shaming” involves sending a letter or other notification to the address of registered owners of vehicle suspected of being used to solicit prostituted individuals, alerting owners that their car was seen in an area known for prostitution. Alternatively, letters may be sent to the home addresses of sex buyers arrested in reverse stings. The letters usually include warnings citing health risks for sex buyers, their spouses and other partners, and the harm of commercial sex to communities and survivors. The use of “Dear John” letters or messages intended to alert those living with known or suspected sex buyers is relatively rare, with just 91cities and counties known to employ this tactic. Information about that approach is presented on the webpage for the tactic, “Letters.” 

To learn more about this intervention, access the resources below.

City Council Motion Authorizing Shaming of Arrested Sex Buyers

Registry of Convicted Sex Buyers

Police Press Releases

Police/District Attorney Website Displays of Arrested Sex Buyers

Private Websites Intended to Shame Sex Buyers:

Billboards Displaying Identities of Arrested Sex Buyers

News Reports About Communities Identifying Arrested Sex Buyers

Editorials and Debates about Shaming Sex Buyers

Media Ads with Arrestee Identities

News Reports on Running Media Ads with Arrestee Identities


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