Bikers Against Child Abuse: Helping Kids Feel Safe

Update 7 months later: See photos from my nephew’s sixth birthday party attended by BACA.

Original article: My 5-year-old nephew is in a tough spot. While visiting with him last Christmas, as we played together with his new toys, he asked me, “Why are you playing with me?” The question stunned me.

As this year has worn on, a suspected pattern of physical and/or mental abuse has developed. His mom is now filing for complete custody, and currently has it because his father has refused to meet with Child Welfare Services investigators.

Our greatest fear is the life-long damage already inflicted upon my nephew. In school, he acts out in extreme ways, has been bullying classmates and has few friends.

Recently, something extraordinary happened. A new family adopted my nephew, Bikers Against Child Abuse International (BACA). No less than fifty leather-clad bikers roared up to his home to introduce themselves. They call it a Level 1 Intervention, or “child ride.” It’s done at the request of the family and only in cases of documented abuse.

The bikers removed their sunglasses, walked up to my nephew, bent down on one knee and told him he didn’t need to be afraid anymore.

“We let the entire neighborhood know, within the sounds of the pipes of
our bikes, who we are and that this child is with us.” –John Paul Chief
Lilly, BACA founder.

BACA logo depicting a fist with the letters B.A.C.A. on the knuckles, all of it surrounded by a circle with the words Bikers Against Child Abuse International
The group is a support system wrapped around a show of force. My nephew was told he could call on them any time he doesn’t feel safe. They will stand outside his front door or inside his home or at his bedside. They will escort him to and from school. They will make their presence known in the neighborhood. When he’s on the witness stand, his BACA family will be in the room with him. In an emergency, the group uses a phone chain, calling each other to summon as many BACA members as needed.

Lest this sound like a vigilante movement, know that the group works with local law enforcement agencies and has rigid protocols documented on its web site. The group is a nonprofit organization with chapters in 30 states and two Australian provinces. Bikers undergo a background check and ride with the group for a year before joining by a unanimous vote of the local chapter’s board of directors.

First and foremost, the bikers are there to comfort my nephew. I suppose I should be calling him Cookie. That’s his new road name. “Frog” and “Mama T” are his primary contacts, the bikers who live closest to him. They will assess his support needs in the coming months. While most needs involve a physical presence, there is also a therapy assistance fund when a family has no where else to turn.

After the group arrived on Saturday, Cookie walked around to each biker for introductions, being told each biker’s road name. “Spurs” and “Ducky” are the local chapter’s president and vice president. “Scooter” was Cookie’s liaison when his mom first contacted the group. Only Scooter, Frog and Mama T know the particulars of Cookie’s situation and his real name.

Some of the bikers gave Cookie stickers, bubbles or other small toys. Then he was shown the motorcycles and offered a seat on any of them, or a ride if he desired (they brought a child-size helmet).

Mama T and Frog presented Cookie with a denim vest, leather bracelet and black twin-size blanket bearing the red and white BACA logo. A group picture was taken with a Polaroid camera and after about an hour his new family rumbled on.

“We love you and we will do whatever it takes to make you feel safe again. We’re here if you need us.” –One of Cookie’s new friends.

Frog and Mama T will check in once a month. Hopefully the initial intervention is all Cookie needs — that, and for the court system to give sole custody to his mother so that the healing may begin.

I asked Cookie what he thought of the whole experience with the bikers. He replied,  “They make me feel safe and happy.”

Update 7 months later: A nice photo of “Animal” and “Cookie” at Cookie’s sixth birthday party.

Comments

25 Responses to “Bikers Against Child Abuse: Helping Kids Feel Safe”

  1. cranky mama says:

    Oh, wow. Just wow. I am so glad something like BACA exists! I had no idea, but how great is that?

    August 21st, 2006 at 11:33 am

  2. Anonymous says:

    AWESOME! Thank you for spreading the word!

    August 21st, 2006 at 2:27 pm

  3. Beckie Tetrault says:

    Wow! I have tears in my eyes right now. That is a wonderful thing they are doing!

    August 22nd, 2006 at 10:36 am

  4. lisa says:

    That is one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. My heart just melted.

    August 22nd, 2006 at 2:14 pm

  5. Tami says:

    What a fantastic group! I hope they can help break the chain of family violence by showing these kids some positive role models.

    August 27th, 2006 at 2:19 pm

  6. Chris says:

    Outstanding! Thank you for posting this. = )

    August 31st, 2006 at 3:20 pm

  7. Ann says:

    I have recently joined as a supporter in BACA of Kentucky. I am glad to read your story and hope the best for Cookie and his family. Good luck in all you do.

    November 11th, 2006 at 3:07 pm

  8. Papa Bear says:

    I am honored that BACA can be there for Cookie. Anyone interested in being involved in BACA can go to http://www.bacausa.com click on your state and find a local chapter.
    Papa Bear, Central Valley Chapter

    November 27th, 2006 at 6:18 pm

  9. Michael says:

    B.A.C.A. is a great group and they can really help the kids out alot!!

    February 20th, 2007 at 5:04 pm

  10. Dr. K says:

    Glad to come across this posting. It is just one of the thousands of stories of children We as BACA members can relate. That is what we do but we cannot do it alone it takes of our time and money. You can help relieve their pain by donating if everyone in america could send just one dollar we would have more than enough money to take care of so many more children, and meet their needs. God Bless America God Bless the Children.

    April 22nd, 2007 at 6:25 am

  11. SherBear - supporter, BACA KCMO Chapter says:

    Thanks for such great posts – sharing the word about what BACA does and can do. – you have explained it well – Wishing your family all the best and big Bear hugs to Cookie from his BACA family in KCMO..

    May 8th, 2007 at 3:02 pm

  12. Even Meaner Joni says:

    Absolutely terrific writing, captures the soul of BACA. BACA people are a special breed.

    Our band, Mean Gene Kelton & The Die Hards, fully support BACA Houston, and are donating a portion of the proceeds of our new CD to BACA.

    Even if you are not a member, please go to their website, find a local chapter, contact them and see what you can do to help. Volunteer at a fundraiser (its really fun!!) Pass out flyers! Just spread the word about BACA. You don’t have to ride to help a kid in need.

    July 9th, 2007 at 12:19 pm

  13. Brooklyn says:

    KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK. THANKS FOR GETTING THE WORD OUT. BIG HUGS TO YOU ALL.
    BROOKLYN (LONG ISLAND,NY BACA

    October 1st, 2007 at 1:18 pm

  14. tabatha b says:

    hey just wanted to say that u guys are awsome and that i love wat you do and some day when i get older i want to do it to!!!!!

    October 19th, 2007 at 2:32 pm

  15. tabatha b says:

    hey just wanted to say that u guys are awsome and that i love wat you do and some day when i get older i want to do it to!!!!!

    October 19th, 2007 at 2:32 pm

  16. Ninny says:

    What a great story! Love from Southeast Oklahoma Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse. Ninny: Public Relations
    Willing to ride to hell and back to help one child…

    January 9th, 2008 at 6:04 pm

  17. Anna says:

    Totally awesome. Its amazing what a few people with huge hearts can accomplish. Good going guys. God Bless BACA!

    April 3rd, 2008 at 7:16 pm

  18. Polle says:

    hello i came on this site and i want to say that there is an dutch chapter too

    No child deserves to live in fear
    greetings Polle
    baca dutch chapter

    August 26th, 2008 at 9:55 am

  19. Sleepwalker, BACA Gulf Coast Chapter says:

    Came across this posting by mistake. I am a suppoter of BACA Gulf Coast, working to be a member. I am so happy to hear the we could be there for Cookie (that’s my wife’s road name.)We send out much love to Cookie, be strong and always know we will always be there when invited to join the family of a needy child. Take care, Sleepwalker.

    January 16th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

  20. gloria says:

    Yes this is a great story! B.A.C.A is awsome! I’ve met a few of them myself and everyone of them have a heart filled with so much compassion! Love you all!!!

    March 7th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

  21. lisa C says:

    I was invited to ride with B.A.C.A. of Huntsville,Al.,for a poker run/charity event. This was a great honor.I appreciate the warm kindness that i was given by the Pres.,wife and Pres., and spouse of another local chapter.This changed my life.I am a paramedic,i see things no one should. But, i have never stepped up like these people have. I hope everyone can raise awareness for these hero’s of everyday. Let the babies sleep with no worries. I know that my life is committed to doing all i can to help.. Give what you can,when you can. THANK YOU BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF B.A.C.A.

    March 22nd, 2009 at 6:10 pm

  22. Hippie ,Oklahoma Chapt says:

    I have been riding with BACA for a little over a year now…every time I hear or read a story like this my eyes well up. If you could only see the look in the childs eyes when we roll up and kneel down to meet them..there is NO better feeling you can share! I am proud of all my brothers and sisters for what they do for these children!

    March 29th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

  23. Doc says:

    Wow .. it’s through misty eyes that I’m typing this. I’m riding with BACA tomorrow and checked out their wesite to see what they’re about. Again, wow. This puts a whole new twist on the ride. You can bet I’ll be riding with gratitude and humility, knowing that it’s an honor to ride with these brothers and sisters. For what you do – God bless you and keep you safe for the kids that need you. – Doc

    April 24th, 2009 at 12:09 pm

  24. Fly Boy - Oklahoma Chapter says:

    I consider myself blessed to be associated with such a committed group of brothers and sisters within the BACA family. During the first child adoption ride I got to attend, thirty five to forty bikes roared into a small park where we had previously planned to rendezvous with the family. We gathered around our new little brother and sister and knealt down as a group in order to be on the same level. We also removed our sunglasses so they could see each of our eyes. We presented each of them with a vest – something that’s used to bond us together as a family. Both children were given teddy bears as well. At this point, we formed a single file line and would each take our turn coming up, taking a knee and introducing ourselves. Many gave a small toy or pin to add to their new vests. The little ones would then eagerly hand their new teddy bears to us so we could fill them up with love – which is done by hugging it. Both of those bears were eventually hugged by every one of us. The kiddos were told that whenever they hugged their bear, it would give them some of the love that we put in. They were also told that when the bears ran low on love, to let us know and we would make a special trip back to ‘refill’ the bears. Several other facets of the adoption ceremony took place and then it was time to leave – but only after it was very clear to the kids that they were now part of our family and that if anyone even thinks about messing with one of our brothers or sisters, they’d best be prepared to deal with the rest of us. I remember feeling embarassed while wiping tears away at different points of the afternoon. In the end, those feelings of embarassment were replaced with gratitude as I had been blessed by the opportunity to be part of something much bigger than myself.

    November 20th, 2009 at 12:10 am

  25. Donald Wheeler says:

    I have known of BACA for several years and have seen them provide protection and a sense of security for children from five and six year old up to teenages. Lincoln County has some awesome members (ie 4corners Chapter). Thank you, BACA! -Donald Wheeler, Child Welfare Specialist

    April 21st, 2010 at 3:55 pm