By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Special Interest | Issue: April 2010
Members of the Tulsa chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse: Cruncher, Radar, Shamrock and Little V.
There are many kinds of child abuse – sexual, physical, emotional, neglect. Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) is working to prevent abuse by empowering children with the strength and brotherhood of a biker community.
BACA is a nonprofit, volunteer-only organization whose mission is to create a safer environment for abused children. One of their goals is to empower children not to feel afraid of their environments, by supporting them physically and emotionally. “There’s a fear factor that causes a lot of cases of abuse to go unreported,” says BACA member Shamrock. “That’s where we can step in to help and ease fears.”
BACA members go by their biker names for their privacy and protection from perpetrators and their associates. Members also show solidarity with the children they help by giving the kids biker names as well.
The problem of child abuse is huge. “Every year in Oklahoma, there are over 13,000 confirmed cases of child abuse – and at least that many that aren’t reported. And every year, 40 or more children die from abuse in Oklahoma,” says BACA member Radar. “Just about everybody will tell you that they’re against child abuse, but most of them aren’t doing anything about it. We’re involved.”
BACA has various levels of intervention. At the basic level, members visit the child at his or her home, and give that child a BACA patch and a photo of the child with his or her new biker family. At higher levels, among other actions, BACA members will create a visible presence at the home of the child to deter further abuse and harassment.
If needed, BACA members will attend court with abused children in order to help them feel less intimidated and frightened while testifying. “This can be a big help for kids, especially in cases where children and their parents are separated in the courtroom because the parents are testifying,” says Cruncher, one of the Tulsa chapter’s original members.
BACA was founded in 1995, and the Tulsa chapter was created in 1996. BACA has about 150 chapters in 33 states nationwide, with others in Australia and more coming in other countries. There are 14 chapters in Oklahoma, including Tulsa and Pryor. “We belong to different chapters, but there’s just one BACA, and we support each other,” says Cruncher.
BACA isn’t for everybody, members say. “A single mom with kids – that’s the kind of family where BACA is used most,” says Cruncher. “In those cases, many times you have intimidation by the alleged perpetrator, and so we become involved, with parental permission, if the child is afraid of his or her environment.”
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and BACA is especially using this time to raise awareness. “We want people to remember that abuse is real, and that it isn’t always reported,” says Cruncher. “You need to keep your eyes open for it.”
The Rogers County Real Estate Association Home and Garden Show is April 1-4 at the Claremore Expo Center, and BACA will be there with an awareness booth. Parents are invited to bring their kids by the booth, where BACA will provide them with a photo and fingerprints of their child for safekeeping, in case anything ever happens and parents need to contact the police. This is also a great time for parents to talk to and get to know BACA members.
They’re doing plenty more: BACA’s 100-Mile Ride, their annual national fundraiser, is April 24. BACA has been invited to participate in Shawnee’s Kelsey Briggs Foundation Child Abuse Prevention Rally. And BACA is also hosting this year’s Rogers County Easter Egg Hunt.
“We’re passionate, and we put our lives on the line,” says Cruncher. “We’re here to help kids discover how powerful they can be.”
For more information, visit Bikers Against Child Abuse on the web at www.bacausa.com.