An Army: Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA)
By NATALIE SANDERS, firstname.lastname@example.org
There is an army out there serving children who have been abused. This army doesn’t carry guns, wear camouflage, have ranking officers, or even receive a paycheck, but they are a secret weapon, at least for the children who are part of their biker family.
Bikerss Against Child Abuse (BACA) welcomes children who have been abused and are navigating the court system into their family. BACA children are welcomed into the family with a ceremony that begins with the roar of motorcycles rumbling down the street.
Like a calvary, the group organizes its members, as many as can attend, to roll up to a child’s home for the ceremony. The initial contact is called a Level 1 Intervention.
Children who enter the BACA family are referred by authorized agencies such as police and sheriff’s departments, prosecuting attorneys, social workers, and child advocacy organizations such as Kids Harbor. BACA children are victims of physical, mental, and sexual abuse who are now facing all the legalities of that situation.
This usually means that the child’s perpetrator is either currently under investigation or is being prosecuted. BACA’s Child Liason verifies the case, talks with the child’s family or guardians, and sets up the the Level 1 meeting.
The Level 1 meeting is to welcome the child to the family and provide him or her with a sense of belonging. The parade of motorcycles rumble up to the meeting location to greet the child and the child’s family or guardians.
BACA immediately becomes an army of support for the child, bot literally and figuratively. Members provide a guard at the meet, every time the child is in court, or if the child is scared or being harassed. Two BACA members, who live closest to the child, become the child’s primary contacts and can be called upon any time the child needs that support.
“We’re not role models and we’re not vigilantes, we’re here to empower these kids,” Desert Rat, BACA’s Missouri State Public Relations Officer told the Daily Guide in an interview. BACA members never use their given names, only their BACA names and the BACA names of the children, to protect their privacy and privacy of the children in their organization.
The child is presented with a cut, or jean vest, that has the BACA patch on the back, has the child’s new BACA nickname, picked out by the child, on the front, and other BACA patches and symbols. The ceremony is meant to be an empowering moment for the child, according to BACA, to show the child they have a big “family” of supporters, defenders, and people to lean on during a period in their lives when they are dealing with “the worst thing that ever happened to them.“
That initial Level 1 meeting is the beginning of the army deploying for the child. Over the course of the child’s experience with investigators, lawyers, court, and all the other parts of dealing with the aftermath of abuse, BACA is there.
Desert Rat told the Daily Guide that BACA members come from all over the surrounding states sometimes to support one child.
When asked why they do what they do, Desert Rat said, “Really, why not? These kids need and deserve more than what they’re getting.“
He said he hates that they have to be there, but he loves what they do.
“We’re empowering these kids. I absolutely love what we do,” Desert Rat said.
BACA is an international organization that has been around for 22 years and the members are required to pass a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) background check. The organization has a curriculum where they teach members how to behave in court and how to interact with the child and the child’s family, as well as law enforcement and court officials.
“Court for an adult is pretty intimidating, court for a child is... Having to tell a room full of strangers about the worst thing that ever happened to them is (terrible),” Desert Rat said.
BACA members escort the child to and from court, providing security, checking to make sure the child will not accidentally run into the perpetrator as entrances and exits are made. They also provide support and even entertainment in the form of games, chat, and distraction while the child waits to testify. While the child is in the courtroom, BACA members are in the room, if the court allow it, to support the child during their testimony.
Not only is BACA there for the child, that’s their primary focus, but they are also there with guardians as the court cases procede.
BACA stays with the child all the way throughout the court process, but backs away once the court case is over with.
“We try to distance ourselves after a case is finished. They’re still invited to parties, but it’s up to them to reach back out to us. We don’t want to be a crutch and we are a constant reminder of that dark time,” Desert Rat told the Daily Guide.
As an army of supporters, BACA is completely non-profit. Often, the members are paying for their own gas, taking time off of work, and paying for their own costs to be there for the children that need them.
The organization does accept donations. Desert Rat told the Daily Guide that they are “always” in need of jean jackets and jean vests, in all sizes, that are given to the children, as well as monetary donations to help cover costs.
Individuals or organizations interested in helping BACA can visit http://bacaworld.org
to donate or call 800-467-4183 to let the Missouri chapter you would like to donate jean jackets or money. Desert Rat told the Daily Guide that they would be happy to make arrangements.