Senator Paula Hawkins and President Ronald Reagan signing the Missing Children's Act

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Senator Paula Hawkins and President Ronald Reagan signing the Missing Children's Act

Senator Paula Hawkins and President Ronald Reagan signing the Missing Children's Act

January 16, 2018

President Ronald Reagan signed the Missing Children's Act into law on October 12, 1982. 

Listen as Gene Hawkins describes the landmark work  of his wife, United States Senator Paula Hawkins, for the Missing Children's Bill in this excerpt from an oral history interview with WWII Veteran Gene Hawkins at Villa Serena on May 15, 2017.

LISTEN Part V (19:02) 

She had ideas of what she wanted to do. And, at that time, you know, John Walsh, his son had just gone missing in a mall down in Hollywood. And Adam Walsh became very famous and others had gone missing. It was coming to be a factor. Kids would be picked up on the street... So Paula had thought about legislation... it was called the Missing Children Bill; had to be approved in the Senate and then the House. But anyway, she was in the Senate so the bill had to come first in the Senate. She wrote it and she and her aid who lives in Jacksonville now, they basically wrote the legislation and what it called for. And now, Paula is taking this to other senators saying,"Would you cosponsor? Would you give me your vote?" and so forth.

The Missing Children's Center

It was tough because the FBI people didn't think the missing children - they were more concerned about drugs and, you know, really high level things. Paula had hearings. And it came up in the hearing, someone said from the FBI, we have to find million dollar resources... And so Paula said, "If a racehorse is worth millions of dollars, how much is a child worth?" And she was dynamic. She had the hearing and the FBI was opposed and they got a lot of senators to agree not to vote for it. But anyway, Paula persisted and persisted and she finally got the bill passed. And it's in Alexandria, Virginia - the Missing Children's Center. And Paula has been recognized again. And later she passed the Missing Children or Abused Children has been added. How many children they've found...

Senator Paula Hawkins' Idea for Missing Children Legislation builds on local policing...

We were driving from Maitland to Winter Park. I don't know if you know where that turn off is if you're coming 17-92 there's a little turnoff to go to Winter Park. Anyway, I had not - you know, how you put a little tag on annually on your car... well I hadn't put mine on. ... So here's where she gets the idea. So the police car blew a whistle, stopped me, I pulled over... Paula's listening and she sees this guy. He had called ahead on his computer... Paula's watching him on the computer. Her eyes got that big. Wow! Wow! It doesn't matter how that came out, but that's when she got the idea about missing children legislation. It called for every county police people, city police, take all elements of policing if you will. The bill called for it. If a child goes missing, get his name and all the details when and where it happened and get on the Internet and let it be known widely... And that's where, if you ever should go to - it's just outside of DC headquarters.... They've got a person that can do a sketch, send that out. You know that center - every state, every county, it's phenomenal what the bill called for.... 



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