We Stand Ready

photos by Matt Cornelius
photos by Matt Cornelius

We Stand Ready

No child deserves to live in fear! Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (B.A.C.A.) is a nonprofit 501-C-3, tax-exempt international organization with a chapter right here in Texarkana. The organization was founded in 1995 with one man’s desire to help just one suffering child, an eight-year-old, who was so frightened by his perpetrators that he would not leave his own home. The founder, having had kind and loving experiences with bikers during his own childhood, was moved to include this boy in his biker circle. Within a short amount of time, that boy was out of his home, riding his own bike and playing again with other children. With this knowledge and success, it was time to act and help in the effort to end child abuse around the world; thus, B.A.C.A. was born.

Imagine you are a child who has been abused by people who are supposed to protect you. How do you regain that feeling of safety we all crave? That question is at the very heart of B.A.C.A. Their goal is ultimately to break the chains of child abuse so those affected by it do not grow up and bring what happened to them into their relationships.

Before B.A.C.A. members are allowed to help a child, they undergo extensive background checks and training for handling sensitive situations. “Shaggy,” the President of our local Texarkana chapter, shared, “We have an MOU or a Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Texas. It is an agreement stating that every 18 months, our members will have new background checks run. Our fingerprints are even on file with the FBI.”

After this process is completed, the true mission of B.A.C.A. begins. “We receive information about a ‘hero’ (a child abuse victim),” Shaggy explained, “and we set up a visit. This visit includes about four or five people. We go and meet the child. We tell them about what B.A.C.A. does and how we would like to help them by standing with them. We advise them that this is a big decision and that with any big decision, they need to think on it for at least 24 to 48 hours. After they have thought about it, if they decide they want to be a B.A.C.A. kid, they can give us a call back and we will make it happen.” Shaggy passionately continued, “Usually within that first 24 hours, we hear back that they want to be part of our family. We welcome them and let them know we will be coming back with a few of our friends. That is when we reach out to all our 28 chapters in the state of Texas and [the] surrounding area to see who can join us in welcoming the child. There is no telling how many people will show up. It can be 20, 30 or even up to 50 people.”

This visit is what B.A.C.A. calls a Level One. It is when the entire group makes the ride on their big bikes to welcome that child into the biker family at a location where the child feels safe. They have a brief ceremony where the “heroes” are presented with their own B.A.C.A. vest, or “cut,” as the group calls them, with a patch on the back, with the child’s very own road name. It serves to make them feel like they are a part of the group. That group then gets assigned to that child as their primaries. They are then there for that child 24/7 around the clock. The biker tells the child that they are now a part of their family, which also means, “We’ve got your back,” empowering the child.

photo by Matt Cornelius

“One of the big things we like to do is give kids back the control that has been taken from them. We tell them they are in charge. They tell us where they want to meet and what they want to do during our time together. We have kids that are in a shell. They are scared. We try to make them more comfortable with little games we play with them. Something I started and like to share with other B.A.C.A. members is saying things to them like, ‘Hey you dropped your pocket’ and they look down and laugh and say, ‘you can’t drop your pocket’ and I will reply ‘but I made you look!’ Then I tell them to go see how many people they can get to look. The kids will come back to me laughing and saying, ‘I got 12 people with it, Shaggy!’ We high five! That is when the ice breaks! That is when they start feeling more comfortable with us.”

Services B.A.C.A. might provide for the child include driving by the child’s house on the night before the trial and revving up their engines, reminding them they are truly not alone, or escorting the child, along with our Texarkana Police Department to the courthouse and, if the judge allows, even walking in with them and sitting behind them. The family members of the perpetrators will sometimes show up and this can be intimidating for the child. Having this powerful gesture of support builds their confidence and gives them the strength they need to be brave while on the stand.

“When we are not busy locally in our chapter,” said Shaggy, “we will see if any of our surrounding chapters need our support. One time I drove 700 miles to meet a child. When they stood me in front of the child to introduce me and asked me how many miles I had driven and I told them, they actually had to stop so the child could go back into the house to take a minute. That child could not believe someone who had not known them a day in their life would drive all that way to meet them. Moments like those are what we call our ‘pork chop moments.’ It is when we are reminded of WHY we do what we do.” And B.A.C.A. members do all of this for free, but the rewards are countless.

As the B.A.C.A. mission statement says, “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. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. 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 to them by affiliation and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield 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 do whatever it takes to make abused kids feel safe, which is huge for children who have been hurt, especially by adults who are supposed to love and protect them. They help give them their life back. They are there for them when they are scared and stick around until they are not.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The local B.A.C.A. chapter has awareness events throughout the year where you can meet some of the members personally and find out ways you can support them, including donations which are always appreciated.

If you would like more information, you can visit bacaworld.org, or the local chapter of B.A.C.A. which meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 at the Elks Lodge at 3702 New Boston Road and visitors are welcome. To donate directly to the local Texarkana chapter, call 866-757-7689 or mail checks directly to 2801 Richmond Road, PMB #307, Texarkana, TX 75503.


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