There is a chance that you have never heard of B.A.C.A., Bikers Against Child Abuse, before. Thankfully, the organization is getting more and more recognition which they truly deserve. The help they provide to children is priceless.
The Extent Of Child Abuse In The United States
There are countless cases where children have become victims of abuse and neglect. It is estimated that as many as 700 000 children are abused in the United States annually.
Younger children are more vulnerable to neglect, the most common form of maltreatment. 74.4% of the abused children suffered neglect, while 17.2% were abused physically and 8.4% sexually.
The numbers are daunting and what makes it even more awful is that the perpetrators, in most cases, are the parents.
Abused Children Appearing In Court
The legal system is often a traumatic experience for abused children since they are forced to relive the terrible memories of the abuse.
The Department of Justice has tried to make the experience bearable by offering alternatives to courtroom testimonies, using multidisciplinary child abuse teams, and protecting the identity of the child.
There is also help coming from an unexpected direction. B.A.C.A. organizations exist in places like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States, and they do everything in their power to keep the children safe.
The Bikers With Big Hearts
As the stereotype shows, bikers are often seen as tough and scary, and the members of B.A.C.A. look the part. However, these tuff guys and girls have gone through background checks and received extensive training for handling sensitive situations.
These bikers have child-friendly names like Scooter and Pooh Bear, and they will do everything to ensure the children they are helping feel safe and comfortable.
A part of their mission statement reads, "We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children… We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse."
When the B.A.C.A. first meet a child, they bring a B.A.C.A. vest and give the kid a cool nickname. They then support the child by escorting them, being in court with them, spending time with them, and watching their house while they sleep in case the child feels threatened.
NPR correspondent Gloria Hillard got the story about B.A.C.A. helping a 13-year-old girl, and she described the biker as "men and women in well-worn black leather vests, scuffed boots, and denim. Most have visible tattoos and a penchant for silver jewelry."
However, the children that receive their help are not intimidated but only excited to see them. Previous child abuse victim Markie Durky was interviewed by Hillard. She revealed that she was so inspired by the bikers that she wished to become a member of B.A.C.A. and help young children just like she was helped.
How The B.A.C.A. Started
The bikers' reputation as people you do not mess with was the inspiration for the organization. B.A.C.A. was established in 1995 by the social worker and biker John Paul Lilly.
John wanted to help an 8-year-old boy that was a victim of abuse by including him in the biker community, and the improvement he noticed in the boy was remarkable. The idea of Bikers Against Child Abuse was born.
The fearless and hardcore bikers make the children feel powerful and less scared, which helps to regain their confidence and get over their bad memories.
The bikers also enjoy spending time with and helping the kids, and they are very proud of the organization. "If they need escorts to court, to therapy, to school, if it takes us having to stand outside and guard their house all night so they can sleep, then that's what we'll do," the member called Bikerdad shared.
They see the children as heroes instead of victims and admire them for their strength.
Because Of B.A.C.A People Look At Bikers Differently
When thinking about bikers, people tend to imagine big muscly men with beards, bandanas, tattoos, and piercings. Through the years, they have often been painted in a bad light by media and on the big screen.
B.A.C.A. has changed this conception or at least made it more diversified because bikers are now playing with dolls together with the kids and getting cute face paintings.
Another important fact to mention is that it is a volunteer organization, and the bikers do not charge a penny for their work. They have to put their own money to help, like the time they made sure a sexually abused girl got new clothes and other things she needed.
Their motto is "No Child Deserves to Live in Fear," and all their hard work and the care they show these unfortunate children genuinely fill us with hope.