SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Rather than go see a movie, or hang out at home, today Kelly Gifford decided to take her son to a museum.
“It’s a great opportunity for my son to have a good time while he’s learning,” Gifford says.
She says she learned pretty quickly though that unlike a movie theater or her living room, museums and parks come with their fair share of distractions.
“They’re kids. They’re going to run around,” she says.
And perhaps nothing is scarier for a parent than the moment a child leaves their sight.
“You always want your kids in arm’s length. In a place like this where there is so much to see and do. It’s critical that this is a safe space for them,” she says.
That’s why state representative Kathy Swan suggests Missouri put about 500 ft. worth of distance between places like these and registered sex offenders.
“Currently there’s nothing in statute to prohibit this,” Swan says.
Representative Swan says the bill is strictly meant to add children’s museums and zoos to a current list of places sex offenders can’t go,
“A museum for the purpose of educating and entertaining children under the age of 18,” Swan describes.
She says because the current list only mentions playgrounds and public parks, incidents have occurred at children’s museums in her hometown of Cape Girardeau.
“Police departments could not respond to an individual being in the building itself. One of the board members of the museum asked me to file this bill,” Swan explains.
While the bill would likely not stop an unknown sex offender from walking into the added places, it would allow police to take action if the offenders were discovered there.