April the Month of the Young Child
Bikers Against Child Abuse Make Victims Feel Safe
Five big and burly motorcycle riders, arrived in their leather togs decorated with pins and patches representing the BACA program of which they are a part, were present last week for the Parents Children First Child Abuse Prevention Awareness luncheon. During an inspiring video and personal presentation, members of the Central Iowa Chapter of the Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) shared their mission statement - to create a safer environment for abused children.
The video was the first explanation of what BACA means. The BACA founder, known as "Chief", is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist working with small children between the ages of 3 and 8, most of whom have been abused or hurt in another way. He would see incremental changes taking place, but then the perpetrator would cruise by the house or have access to the child again that would compromise his progress. "My frustration grew and grew, " he said.
Because of the childhood experiences Chief had with bikers, he decided to ask some of his biker friends if they would be willing to help support a child. It was apparent to him that there were people who wanted to fight child abuse, but they did not have an organized way to do it, so Chief put out the call. For the first ride, 27 motorcycles showed up with about 40 people. "This result clarified the vision," Chief said. "This was something that could help children in a substantial way."
BACA's first level of intervention is to make a visit to a child. A whole chapter of bikers ride to the child's home. They want their strength of numbers and tough biker persona to be seen for what it is - a demonstration that they are a force in the child's life and that they are there to create a safe environment for them. "We become a part of that child's family," Chief said in the video. "The message to each child is very clear that when they are part of our family, we don't run, we don't hide, we don't take cover. We stand tall and will stand right beside you, in front of you, in back or around you, to make sure that you are safe." The demonstration is meant to empower children to not be afraid of the world in which they live.
Each child is assigned two "primaries" so there is never a 1-on-1 situation. The primaries will be in contact with that child on a regular basis and be who the child can confide in. It is the primaries who may get the phone call from a child that sends them running out the door, jumping on their motorcycles, and eventually hugging that child so he knows he is someone who is loved and cared about. Once the process develops between the primaries and the child, group visits are scheduled monthly or bi-monthly when activities are organized to reinforce a child's feeling of empowerment and safety. As the relationship continues, trust becomes a power for the children and they begin to accept that they can be what they need to be. The BACA members will do whatever it takes to make the fear go away.
A child's BACA family will accompany the child in court. They will not let a child face something like that alone. These kids are part of our family and it is important that we follow through with what we say we are going to do and part of that is going to court with them. We ask them, "Are you ready?" and when they say 'yes', we take their hand and walk in with them - a bunch of bikers showing family strength. Our presence evens the odds.
Our reward is watching the faces of the children light up again - to see life, that was taken away, come back to them - the innocence that was stolen in the night by some thoughtless thug. We want our kids to feel the force of love that comes to them from us from all sides and encircle them.
The presentation ended by inviting the public to call if anyone knows of a situation where BACA could help create a safer environment for an abused child. The group is contactable by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the helpline at 515-789-0101. For more information, visit the BACA international website at www.bacaworld.org