When you’re feeling scared and intimidated, it helps to have someone in your corner, especially if you’re a child and that ‘someone’ is a tough-looking biker.
Bikers Against Child Abuse is helping children who have been abused to feel safe and protected by standing on guard for them. While, big, burly bikers aren’t the first group you’d think of as a safety net, for children in their care, they are the perfect group to empower the victims.
“We want the child to feel safe and know that they are part of our family,” said Safety, a member of the local chapter, who goes by his road name to protect his identity.
BACA started in 1995 by a clinical child therapist in Utah and has grown to provide services in eight countries around the world. Locally, 14 members of the Brandon chapter include individuals from Dauphin, Brandon, Virden, Miniota, Souris and Shilo who have spent the past year and a half in training to provide the service. Both Brandon and Winnipeg are in the process of setting up BACA chapters. As a temporary chapter, the local group will continue training to reach a full chapter status in the future.
“Once a perpetrator has been charged, the guardian of the child will contact our hotline and a meeting will be set up with our child liaison,” explained Safety. “We find out the needs of the child and two members are assigned as primary contacts for that child.”
Each child is given a road name and a vest complete with the BACA patch depicting a closed fist with a skull and crossbones surrounded by chains. The logo holds a lot of significance for the group. The colour red is for the blood shed by wounded children, white represents their innocence and black refers to the dark times they go through. The fist represents BACA’s commitment to stop child abuse and the skull and crossbones is the symbol of the death of that abuse. The chains meanwhile, represent the united organization.
When the child is welcomed into the BACA family they are also given a teddy bear that has been hugged by each member, filling it with love and courage that is passed to the child.
“We let them know that we are there for them no matter what and that they are part of our family,” said Safety.
The bottom line for the group is to make the children feel safe.
“If there is a child who isn’t sleeping we will station members outside their home 24/7 until they feel safe,” he said. “We will take them to and from school and we’ll go to court with them so they feel empowered.”
Each member has been given extensive background checks and training to handle any type of situation that may arise.
“We are there for the child and don’t care about the perpetrator,” he said, explaining that the group will avoid confrontations with the perpetrators and would never do anything to jeopardize the court case for the child.
While each member of the group has joined for their own personal reasons, Safety said past experiences often encourage people to step up. Safety and his wife have eight children and several grandchildren of their own and BACA gives them the opportunity to give back.
“Kids should have fun, not be put through hell,” he said. “There are children who are sleeping with their clothes on and who don’t feel safe and that’s not right. This is our way to help.”
While the tough exterior of long beards and tattoos can be intimidating, the focus of the group is the safety and well-being of the children.
“People wonder about us but we are not vigilantes,” said Safety. “We have gone through extensive training and we promise to do anything in our power to keep the children safe.”
For more information on BACA visit the group’s website at www.bacaworld.org or call the local hotline at 204-724-8351. An information meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. at Future Features, located at 436 Seventh Avenue in Virden.