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San Francisco Sends Men Seeking Sex Workers to ‘John School’—Enrollment Is Spiking

Written by Sarah HoltzPublished Feb. 06, 2023 • 4:00pm
The intersection of 18th and Capp streets is a notorious spot for sex workers. | Garrett Leahy/The Standard

San Francisco is sending men to "John School"—an educational course for those cited for solicitation of sex workers, according to the SF District Attorney's Office.

The online school is run by American Integrity Courses (AIC), which hosts a 10-hour "John School" as part of its Human Trafficking Awareness & Prevention Program.

John School enrollment is spiking, too. AIC told The Standard that the classes have seen growth every year since they began nationally in 2017—apart from 2020 and 2021 when sales slumped, likely due to the pandemic. But so far, 2023 enrollment, after only one month, has been seen more "johns" enrolled than the whole of 2021.

What's on the syllabus? According to the DA's Office, John School covers the "legal, social and health ramifications" of purchasing sex, drawing upon firsthand experiences from sex workers and health professionals, in an effort to deter individuals from solicitation in the future.

The DA's Office said that John School has been available as a virtual online course to first-time offenders in the city since the pandemic began, and that so far, all of the students have been men. Typically, solicitation suspects are directed to neighborhood courts, where convicted offenders may then be required to enroll in John School for a $50 fee.

SF District Attorney Brooke Jenkins | Han Li/The Standard

As DA Brooke Jenkins wrote in a statement, addressing sex work and human trafficking along Capp Street in the Mission has been a priority since she took office. Jenkins' office has referred around 14 johns to neighborhood court.

"We continue to be proactive in helping law enforcement to craft enforcement operations to deter and disrupt this activity while holding traffickers accountable," Jenkins wrote. "We also do everything we can to help rescue victims from traffickers. We are prepared to prosecute any pimping or human tracking case and traffickers where there is sufficient evidence for us to move forward."

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission, visited Capp Street on a recent Friday night, describing the situation as “dangerous and so out-of-control.”

Ronen said that she saw women walking down the middle of the street and bumper-to-bumper traffic due to johns buying sex from workers on Capp Street.

“Someone’s going to die here if we don’t do something about it,” Ronen said.

She now plans to barricade the street between 18th and 22nd streets starting this week.

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