In San Francisco in 1995, the District Attorney’s office and Norma Hotaling, an anti-sex trafficking activist, teamed up to create the First Offender Prostitution Program. This program was geared toward first-time male offenders and consisted of an eight-hour seminar. Participants in the program learned about the negative consequences of prostitution on both parties, the surrounding neighborhoods, and the Criminal Justice system.
Over time, the program showed progress in reducing the recidivism rate and the program gained popularity. Today, people colloquially call the programs “john school,” and there are more than 48 of them in operation around the United States. Additionally, some other countries are creating similar programs.
What Do Participants Learn?
Most of the participants in a john school diversion program are adult men. If they’ve been arrested for soliciting sexual services, or similar offenses, and court-ordered to attend the program, participants will probably sign up for a class that lasts just one day. During the eight-hour course, participants learn about sexually transmitted diseases and the risk of contracting them while engaging in sexual behavior with prostitutes.
They may also receive information about the effects of their behaviors on their own families and communities. Other curriculum focus areas include sexual addiction, health education, strategies for changing behavior, and commercial sexual exploitation.
Is There a Cost for the Program?
In many cases, participants are required to pay a fee to enroll in the program. This financial payment may cover the costs of the program, or it may go toward programs that help get prostitutes off the street or that focus on improving communities that exist within targeted districts. For example, in one Canadian program, the fees for the program are used to run an eight-week course that teaches life skills to prostitutes.
What’s the Purpose of the Program?
It’s important to note that many of the women and men working as prostitutes are considered victims in this situation. Some of the workers are underage or are the victims of sex trafficking. One of the purposes of the john school programs is to reduce the demand for these services. In some cases, increased penalties were used to deter the purchase of sex, but the proponents of john school programs suggest that education and treatment programs are more effective than those penalties.
How Can I Learn More?
There are many john schools in operation around the United States and in several other countries. These programs have shown some positive outcomes, and there’s plenty of reason to continue studying the effectiveness of the schools. Learn more by visiting an online program (https://www.americanintegritycourses.com/) or by contacting public health professionals in your area.