Tougher penalties are being proposed for those who commit crimes against children. 

Missouri’s laws have some gaps in them that prosecutors and child protection centers say need to be plugged—so those violating laws protecting children can be sent away much longer.

Proposed new criminal laws consider certain acts as “aggravating factors” that lead to longer prison sentences. Sponsor Jolie Justus, who wants incest added to the laws as one of those aggravating factors, says two thirds of all crimes against children are committed by relatives and one-third of them are committed by parents.

Her proposal also enhances penalties in child abandonment  cases in which physical injuries happen, and adds similar enhancements in cases of endangering the welfare of a child who is injured.     

The changes are part of the major overhaul of state criminal laws that the Senate will debate when it comes back from spring break       

AUDIO: Justus & Sen. Dixon explaining 6:03