Bikers Against Child Abuse empowers young victims

Bikers against Child Abuse Bikers against Child AbuseThe group of about 25 waiting in the lobby of the Abbotsford courthouse on Tuesday morning is in stark contrast to the lawyers and sheriffs usually walking the hall.

These men and women sport denim, chaps, and black leather vests with patches bearing their “road names,” including Rebel, Animal, Wheel Man, Silver Bullet and Mama Bear.

A patch on the back of their vests reads, “No child deserves to live in fear.”

They mill about, chatting quietly, until a small group appears from one of the courtrooms and moves in their direction. The large group parts, allowing the family to sit, and then surrounds them protectively. They remain there until it is confirmed that the criminal case has been postponed for the day.

The bikers escort the distraught family out of the building and to their vehicle. The bikers mount their motorcycles and take their positions in front of and behind the family’s car, and then they all depart.

This scene marked the first time that the newly formed Fraser Valley chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) supported a family in court.

President James “Maddog” Bergin said BACA’s purpose is to “empower” kids who are the victims of physical and sexual abuse. The organization becomes involved when a parent or caregiver contacts them. They start with an “adoption ride” in which the entire membership meets up with the family and presents the child with a teddy bear and a vest sporting their own “road name.”

Two members are assigned to become the child’s “primaries” and main contacts whom the child can call at any time. “If they’re scared at night, we’ll park two or three members outside of the home so they feel safe,” Bergin said.

BACA members also attend court, accompanying the family to and from the courthouse and sitting in the courtroom when and if the child has to testify. Bergin said this provides the child with the physical and emotional support to get through the court case and, hopefully, lead to the conviction of the perpetrator. This helps the child to feel as if he/she has “a whole army” behind him/her, Bergin said.

All BACA members must pass through a series of steps, including an extensive background check and 12 to 14 hours of webinar training. Monthly meetings and ongoing courses are also included. They are given “road names,” and Bergin jokes that some of them don’t even know each others’ real names.

Bergin said current members come from all walks of life and include business people, tattoo artists, truck drivers and mechanics. Many of them took the day off work to appear at the Abbotsford courthouse on Tuesday.

Some, like “Loki,” have their own history of childhood abuse. “Some of my past wasn’t the greatest. I’ve been abused too, so I want to give back – to make sure (the abuse) stops,” he said in explaining why he is involved with BACA.

Wheel Man said he finds his involvement rewarding. “We’re helping kids who are vulnerable and doing something that the cops can’t do,” he said.

Bergin said although bikers have a stigma of being rough, he hopes people can look beyond that image. “For the most part, we are big and scary people when it’s applicable, but we are also some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.” Bergin said Fraser Valley BACA, which formed about a year ago and is based in Abbotsford, plans to continue supporting the family who was in court on Tuesday, as well as link up with other families and agencies.

For more information or for membership inquiries, email info.fraservalleybaca@yahoo.com.

Information about BACA is also available on the website bacaworld.org. The organization has chapters throughout the world, including the U.S., Australia, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Parenting and The Marriage Penalty Tax Laws

Federal Income Tax
Income Tax Time

Marriage Penalty: 4 Tax Laws That Hit Couples Harder

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2015/01/13/marriage-penalty-tax-laws-hit-couples-harder/

Getting married involves major financial changes, and the U.S. tax system is one of the most important aspects of marital financial planning. Although some married couples benefit from tying the knot as far as their tax returns are concerned, many couples end up paying more than they would if they remained unmarried and each filed their own tax return.

This phenomenon is known as the marriage penalty, and it rears its ugly head in several parts of the tax laws. Let’s take a look at some of the most common provisions in which married couples get the short end of the tax stick.

1. Two-Earner Couples Pay Higher Taxes Faster

Married couples have to combine their earnings in order to determine their gross income, and the tax brackets that apply to various income levels differ for married couples compared to single filers. For one-earner couples, the higher incomes for the brackets for a particular rate result in a marriage bonus. But for two-earner couples who earn roughly the same amount, the fact that the tax brackets for married filers at the 25 percent rate and above have income limits that less than double those of single filers means that they can end up paying extensive marriage penalties.

2. Standard Deductions Are Higher for Unmarried Parents

The tax bracket situation above gets even worse when kids enter the picture. Tax law allows one of the unmarried parents of a child to claim head of household status, which comes with an additional $2,900 standard deduction compared to singles. That means that unmarried parents can claim a total of $15,300 in standard deductions in 2014, compared to just $12,400 for married couples.

In addition, unmarried individuals have the option of having one parent itemize deductions while the other takes a standard deduction. Married couples, on the other hand, don’t have that option. If one itemizes, the other has to as well — even if that spouse has no itemized deductions at all.

3. New Surtax Rules Have Considerable Marriage Penalties

The Medicare and Net Investment Income surtaxes impose additional income taxes of 0.9 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, on various types of income. The 0.9 percent Medicare tax applies to earnings above $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for married joint filers, while the 3.8 percent Net Investment Income provision imposes tax on interest, dividend, and other investment income to the extent that it falls above the same $200,000 and $250,000 income limits. Two individuals earning just under $200,000 wouldn’t be subject to the provision at all, but if they married, they’d be well over the threshold and owe substantial amounts of tax.

4. Tax Benefit Phaseouts Can Hurt Couples More Quickly

Many favorable tax provisions have income limits above which their benefits slowly phase out and eventually disappear. In many cases, combining two individuals’ incomes is enough to phase out beneficial tax breaks even if neither one alone would have been a problem.

One example involves the income level at which personal exemptions and itemized deductions begin to phase out. For singles, income above $250,000 triggers provisions to start phasing out those tax breaks, while married joint filers face a $300,000 limit. Again, the simplest example involves two people who each earn $200,000 — alone, neither would have a problem, but together, they’d lose considerable amounts of their exemptions and deductions and thus pay a lot more in tax liability.

19 Ways Your Child Can Succeed in Any Academic Class

Silhouette of Happy Family
Happy Family

19 Ways Your Child Can Succeed in Any Academic Class.
by Janice Wald, Reflections, http://mycurrentnewsblog.com/

This is a very good article by Ms Wald, who is an important part of Our Circle. I believe this will be something the Parents in Our Circle will appreciate, since Ms Wald is not only a good parent, but a Teacher also.