In A Nutshell
Bikers Against Child Abuse is a motorcycle gang with one mission: to use the “tough guy” image of bikers to empower child abuse victims and make them feel safe again. After initiating the child into the gang, they accompany them on court dates, stand vigil outside their houses, and even join them in therapy classes.
The Whole Bushel
Thanks to countless depictions within popular culture—as well as the actions of the Hells Angels crime syndicate—we tend to think of biker gangs as being populated solely by violent thugs who love fighting, tattoos, and leather clothing.
However, one biker gang has hit upon a way of using this image problem to do some good in the world. Enter BACA, or Bikers Against Child Abuse, an organization of bikers who help child abuse victims feel safe again. In the words of the group, “our mission is to empower these children, allow them not to be afraid of the world, to stand up to the abuser and say you can’t do that me. I’ve got friends, I got back-up.”
They’re extremely dedicated to their young charges. On first meeting BACA, the child is “initiated” into the group and provided with a denim jacket (complete with biker patches), a T-shirt, and rub-on tattoos, before going on a ride-along. After this, the bikers are there at the child’s beck and call. If they have a court date to attend, the bikers will accompany the child to and inside the building and—after telling the child to look at them instead of their abuser—take over the first row of public benches. If the abuser is roaming free or harassing the child or even if the child is having nightmares, all it takes is one call to the group and they’ll stand guard outside their house for as long as they’re required.
The story of BACA begins in 1995, with a social worker and play therapist called John Lilly. He was assigned the case of an eight-year-old boy who was too afraid to leave his house, all because his abuser would stand outside his house at night. In searching for a solution, Lilly remembered that he had been in this position himself, having been abused as a child. However, the young Lilly was befriended by a gang of bikers who took him and vowed to protect him. Wondering if this could help his patient, Lilly approached a group of bikers in the area and asked them to help out. The result? The boy was greeted one day by a gang of 40 motorcyclists, and was soon playing outside with his friends.
Even more impressively, despite having an annual budget of $200,000, BACA is an international group with over 160 chapters spread across seven countries. Each of the members is a volunteer and receives no pay for their work, but that’s not a problem. They do it for their motto, “No child deserves to live in fear.”
And besides which, according to one member, “ ‘Golfers Against Child Abuse’ doesn’t have the same feel.”