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Bikers Riding to the Rescue of Abused Children

  • Bikers Against Child Abuse

    Bikers Against Child Abuse

    A surly looking group of bikers rides into an unsuspecting suburban neighborhood. The throaty rumble of the engines and the unmistakable smell of gasoline exhaust fill the air — windows rattle, and residents begin to peek out their windows. Bikers! They are there to send a message — a message of empowerment. These bikers are members of the international organization BACA or Bikers Against Child Abuse.


    "Bikers against child abuse are here to empower children not to feel afraid in the world that they live in," said founder, J.P. “Chief” Lilly 


    What is BACA?

    Lilly, a child therapist, saw a very big wrong and decided to right it. In his day job, Lilly noticed that children of abuse fell through the cracks in the system. Often they felt too intimidated and scared after abuse to find the sure footing they needed to have a productive and successful future. The international organization was founded in 1995 by Lilly to facilitate the need to make streets safer for children. It serves as a support group for parents and a surrogate family for the children. 


    There are a few things you need to know about BACA. One is that they are not a motorcycle club. They are an international child welfare organization. They have over 170 chapters and have helped thousands of children. While virtually everyone is against the idea of abusing children, these bikers do more than offer lip service, they are making a difference. 


    Who do they help?

    It works like this; Children who are victims of abuse are often unable or unwilling to speak to authorities or appear in court due to feelings of fear or intimidation. These children are referred to BACA through the court system or other community outreach programs. BACA seeks to empower children to stand up and have the courage to take control of their lives. 


    Level one intervention

    The first thing the BACA members do once they have a referral is to coordinate with the child’s family or guardians what they call a “level one intervention.” This action consists of a group ride, to the child’s home, where they bring stuffed animals and loads of hugs, high fives, and fist bumps. The child is presented with an official embroidered biker patch. The presence at the child’s home sends a message to the community, at large, that this child is now protected. The group finds that this tactic is very effective in deterring the abuser from re-offending and offers comfort and courage to the victim child. If indicated, BACA will provide a presence in the home. They often offer to pay for counseling or therapy. BACA members frequently attend court proceedings which is a show of support for the victim and encourages bravery. 


    What can you do?

    If you suspect a child of being abused or neglected, please contact local law enforcement or seek help from organizations like Safe Horizon, who lists these signs of abuse to be aware:


    Evidence of child abuse

    • Changes in behavior. 
    • Fear, depression, anger and withdrawal
    • Apprehension of specific individuals or activities
    • Overly sexualized behavior or age-inappropriate language 
    • Appearing frequently sleepy or tired.
    • Changes in school performance or attendance
    • Weight gain or loss?
    • Unexplained injuries 
    • Use of drugs or Alcohol


    Join the effort

    If you are a biker, who cares deeply about children you are invited to contact your local chapter. In order to join BACA, you need to be 18 years old and be able to pass a background check. They specifically check for charges of crimes against children. If accepted, the prospective member must ride with a local chapter for at least a year. To obtain a patch and become a full member a vote by the board of directors of the local chapter is necessary. 


    The goal of BACA is to have the children --victims of abuse-- and their guardians understand that they are no longer in the situation alone. They emphasize and model concepts like safety, courage, reliability, family, and brotherhood. Many or all of these things can be missing from the life of an abused child.