This Week’s Guest Column from Senator Will Kraus: Keeping Our Children Safe

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Over the next few weeks, millions of Missouri parents will be sending their sons and daughters back to school for the start of another year. This means hundreds of thousands of children and teens will be once again walking, taking the bus or riding their bikes to and from school, with many meeting up with friends before and after classes to play sports or just hang out. While we should always be proactive in teaching our children about personal safety, the beginning of the school year is a great time for us to review their daily route and where they play, making any necessary changes to keep them safe.

It simply isn’t enough to teach our kids about staying away from strangers, especially since younger children can’t always grasp the concept of a stranger in the same way as an adult can. Although it’s difficult to think about, child sex offenders know where to seek their potential victims and how to lure them away. This is why it is critical for parents to actively and consistently educate themselves on the potential dangers that can lurk around our schools, day cares, parks and other places where children gather.

One way we can help safeguard our children is by knowing if any convicted sex offenders live in our neighborhood or along our child’s route to school. Under Missouri law, any sex offender convicted on or after Jan. 1, 1995, is required to register in person with the chief law enforcement officer in his or her community. Missouri’s Sex Offender Registry is maintained by the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP). You may access the registry by clicking here or by visiting the MSHP website at Or you can view the interactive statewide map by clicking here and zooming in to your area.

Once you have accessed the website, you can look up offenders by entering your address and selecting a search area within 500 feet to 15 miles from your home. The site will map out where all the convicted offenders in your vicinity live. When you scroll down and click on the offender’s name, it will bring up a picture, physical description and convictions. If you do not have access to the internet, you can call the Missouri Sex Offender Registry toll-free at (888) 767-6747.

For tips on keeping your children safe while traveling to and from school, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has created a helpful safety checklist, which may be found here or by visiting their website at