Often seen as tattooed and threatening roughnecks, bikers are using their negative stereotype to protect abused and frightened children.
At the request of the social work department, members of Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) will visit William Woods University to explain what they do and how they live to serve children in need.
Their program is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, in Dulany Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.
“If you stand by, and do nothing, you are part of the problem facing children today,” exclaimed the B.A.C.A. president, who goes by the road name Ratchet.
Members of B.A.C.A. receive road names to protect their identity from perpetrators. Children they help also are given road names.
Founded in 1996, Bikers Against Child Abuse, now has chapters in seven countries. They lend support to those in need and work with children who are already in protection.
“B.A.C.A. exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children,” Ratchet said. “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.”
B.A.C.A.’s involvement starts with a central contact person who receives calls and referrals from individuals and agencies. When B.A.C.A. gets a child’s information, a child liaison determines whether the case is legitimate, contacts the family and plans the first meeting.
The entire B.A.C.A. chapter rides to meet the child for the first meeting, which generally lasts about 30 minutes. The child receives a vest with a B.A.C.A. patch, bumpers stickers and other gifts.
After the initial meeting, the child is given the name and number of two B.A.C.A. members who are located closest to them. These two members are the primary contacts.
Primary contact bikers must clear an extensive background check, have ridden with the chapter for at least a year and have received special instructions from the licensed mental health professional.
The child can call anytime he or she is scared and feels the need for the presence of his new B.A.C.A. family. The bikers arrive on the scene to provide reassurance and help the child feel safe and protected.
“We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support by affiliation and our physical presence,” Ratchet said.
“We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner; however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.”
B.A.C.A. members also are available to provide escort services, ride past homes, support children in court, attend interviews and stay with the children. BACA also holds other functions for the children, including barbeques and parties.
The B.A.C.A. mission is to help the children and their families learn how powerful they can be. The presence of B.A.C.A. will be available as long as it is needed.
Ratchet believes it is important that B.A.C.A. make appearances on college campuses to spread the word and circulate instructional materials about child abuse.
“Knowledge and familiarity is key here. It is critical that students that may enter the social work field be familiar with B.A.C.A. beforehand,” said Ratchet. “There are still people today that don’t know who we are, what we do, and how we can help. By introducing B.A.C.A. and our mission to the students, it provides them with this knowledge.”