Missouri lawmakers are considering adding information about sexual predators and online predators to what school children are taught about sex.

Representative Genise Montecillo at a hearing of the House Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.  (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications.)

Representative Genise Montecillo  (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications.)

House Bill 501 would add to what children are already taught about human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases information about sexual predators, online predators and inappropriate text messaging. It would require they be taught about behaving responsibly and remaining safe online and how to communicate with adults about inappropriate situations and abuse.

Bill sponsor Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) says children are often victimized online when they are seeking attention.

“They’re looking for someone to pay attention to them, they’re looking for someone who will communicate with them, and what they often don’t know is that other person on the other end of the line may be 20 or 30-plus years older than them, and they do ask to meet,” Montecillo told a House committee.

Deputy Director Emily van Schenkhof with Missouri Kids First says the proposal would give children needed information to protect themselves from the threats they face online.

“To be able to see situations where they do need to contact an adult or where they do recognize that someone is violating boundaries even in an online sense,” said van Schenkhof.

The bill is supported by the Missouri Catholic Conference and the Missouri National Education Association. No one spoke in opposition to the bill in that hearing.