Empowering Survivors: The Healing Power of Restorative Justice in Addressing Sex Buyer Arrests and Education

Jul 18 / Kimberly Mull, CEO
As a survivor of child sex trafficking, I understand firsthand the deep scars left by the trauma and exploitation experienced at the hands of sex buyers. While my initial thought is for each buyer to sleep with the fishes, that reflects my desire for vengeance, not justice. Vengeance has no place in the justice system.

On the other hand, society continues to avoid arresting buyers of sex or holding them accountable in any reasonable way. Instead, phrases such as "he made a one-time mistake" or "she tricked him" have become commonplace in our society. These expressions ignore that self-reporting shows that 1 in 6 men in America have paid for sex. However, amidst the shadows, lack of arrests, and failures to address demand, there is a glimmer of hope—restorative justice.


Restorative justice is a transformative approach to resolving conflicts and addressing harm within communities. It prioritizes healing, accountability, and reconciliation over overly punitive measures. It embodies a holistic philosophy that seeks to repair the harm caused by an offense by actively involving all affected parties in dialogue, empathy, and cooperative decision-making. 

Restorative justice recognizes the interconnectedness of individuals and society. It also emphasizes restoring relationships and empowering victims and offenders to participate in the healing process. Additionally, restorative justice aims to foster understanding, promote personal growth, and cultivate a sense of community while striving for a more just and compassionate society.

Now, don't get me wrong. Arrest should still be the goal, but incarcerating 1 in 6 men in the country with the world's largest prison and jail population is unlikely. We acknowledge there are still imperfections. Beginning with the fact that most buyer arrests are not first-time sex buyers; it is just their first time being caught by law enforcement. Additionally, we know many have or would have bought from a minor when given the opportunity. While it does not atone for these things, restorative justice can be a step for society in the right direction. 

JaneSchool is a new organization focused on "Transforming Lives, Rebuilding Futures: Empowering Restorative Justice for a Responsible Tomorrow." Founded and led by survivors of sex trafficking, JaneSchool is a pioneering online education platform, launching groundbreaking courses designed to educate sex buyers about their participation in the sex trafficking crisis in the Fall of 2023. Intending to hold buyers accountable while instilling new behaviors, JaneSchool offers a comprehensive, interactive learning experience created and presented by survivors, law enforcement, and national leaders in the anti-trafficking movement through a restorative justice lens.

Recognizing the pressing need for effective and accessible sex buyer re-education, JaneSchool empowers courts nationwide to provide their communities with a vital tool in combating sex trafficking. Adopting a restorative justice approach will profoundly benefit addressing sex buyer arrests and education. Each meticulously crafted module equips learners with the knowledge, empathy, and tangible strategies for change, followed by a six-month accountability program and report to the court. This transformative model not only offers healing and empowerment to survivors but also fosters societal change and prevention.

Acknowledging Survivor Voices:

The traditional criminal justice system often leaves survivors feeling further victimized, with a sense of powerlessness and re-traumatization. It is especially profound when the most common response to buyers is to do nothing. Restorative justice offers an alternative by prioritizing healing and empowerment. It places survivors at the center of the conversation and acknowledges their experiences, perspectives, needs, and, most importantly, victimization. Involving survivors in the re-education process amplifies their voices. This approach creates a safe space for survivors to share their stories, reclaim their narratives, and tell buyers exactly how their actions have impacted them.

Accountability and Rehabilitation:

Restorative justice focuses on holding sex buyers accountable for their actions while seeking opportunities for change. Through dialogue, education, and empathy, sex buyers can gain a deeper understanding of the harm they have caused while allowing for genuine remorse and transformation. Ultimately, if buyers acknowledge and accept that they are the primary cause of sex trafficking, we have a better chance of preventing future exploitation and reducing recidivism rates.

Building Empathy and Preventing Recurrence:

Education is a vital component of a restorative justice approach. By implementing educational programs that target sex buyers, like JaneSchool, we can challenge their misconceptions, attitudes, and entitlement. At the same time, we can foster empathy and understanding. By exposing the realities of the sex industry and the human suffering it perpetuates, we can work towards dismantling the demand that fuels sex trafficking. Education plays a critical role in preventing the recurrence of exploitation by shifting societal norms and promoting a culture of consent and respect.

Creating Lasting Change:

Restorative justice has the power to create lasting change in our communities. By involving survivors, law enforcement, community leaders, and other stakeholders in the re-education of sex buyers, we can establish collaborative networks committed to addressing the root causes of sex trafficking. This approach promotes a sense of community responsibility, where all members actively contribute to preventing exploitation, support survivors, and work towards a more just and compassionate society.


Restorative justice offers a glimmer of hope for survivors of sex trafficking, providing a path to healing, empowerment, and societal change. Most importantly, a restorative justice program like JaneSchool offers a sentencing alternative for courts and communities hesitant to order first-time offenders to jail while still encouraging arrests. By acknowledging survivors' voices, promoting healing and empowerment, fostering accountability and rehabilitation, educating sex buyers, and creating lasting change, we can make strides toward eradicating the demand perpetuating sex trafficking. Let us embrace the power of restorative justice and work with organizations like JaneSchool to create a future where exploitation and trafficking are mere remnants of a dark past.
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