“Empowerment today meant them being able to walk and laugh and talk and smile on their way to school this morning,”
That’s the mission behind Bikers Against Child Abuse, or BACA, and the reason the Kanawha Valley chapter of roughly 10 motorcyclist is walking child abuse victims to school this week.
“To see them smile, to see them hold their head up, their chin up and look you in the eye because maybe they couldn’t do that before with others because they were afraid – it’s a blessing for us,” said BACA patch member “Bootsie.”
BACA members said thousands of children in West Virginia are abused physically and/or sexually. Some of those children are too scared to walk to class in fear the perpetrators will find and hurt them again, BACA members said.
Friday marked the second day the Kanawha Valley chapter walked two child abuse victims to Cabell County schools. 13 News is not releasing the names of those children or schools in order to protect their identities.
BACA also escorts children to court in child abuse cases. “Pipe,” president of the BACA Kanawha Valley chapter, said they will also go to parks with children or sleep on their front porches if they’re too scared to sleep at night – anything that helps the children feel safe.
“Empowerment today meant them being able to walk and laugh and talk and smile on their way to school this morning,” Bootsie said. “They’re the hero – they’re the strong one. We’re just the supporter.”
Each motorcyclist must go through a background check before becoming a part of BACA. Anyone who’d like to join the organization can find out more information at their monthly meetings, held on the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. at the Eleanor Fire Department.
BACA can be reached on their hotline at 304-760-9373 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.orgC
They’re not a gang, but they do wear black leather jackets and ride motorcycles in large groups.
“When they look at us [and] see all these big burly guys, they know that we’re there for them. That’s a lot of empowerment to them,” said William Hebert, whose road name is Wheels.
He is referring to the children that he and his biker friends watch over. Wheels is the president of the Calgary chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA).
The not-for-profit organization is new to Calgary but has been around for more than 20 years in Canada and the U.S., as well as chapters across Europe and Australia.
Police, social services and therapists connect motorcycle enthusiasts with kids who have experienced abuse.
The tough-guy guardian angels provide friendship, moral and physical support for the children, whether that be parking their bikes outside their home or escorting them to and from the courthouse to testify.
“At a glance out of their eye they know that they’ve got all their friends standing, waiting for them, cheering them on,” said BACA Calgary member Brian (Woody) Woodhouse.
“Just giving them the strength that they need within themselves to be able to carry on and work the steps through the justice system in order to begin the healing process,” adds Woodhouse.
Woodhouse joined BACA after his six-year-old stepdaughter, Meika Jordan, was killed.
The girl’s biological father Spencer Jordan and his girlfriend Marie Magoon have been charged with first-degree murder.
The trial for the couple starts March 23 in Calgary. That day BACA members from across Alberta and Saskatchewan are planning a rally in the city.
BACA Calgary is still training and educating new members and doing criminal record checks. The chapter expects to be fully up and running by the fall of 2015
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.
My latest series of posts, which began last night, is a vital part of the first days, weeks, and months, of a child’s healthy development.
In Our search for the “right” knowledge and resources, that best fit with Our Circle’s beliefs, values, and codes by which we live and pass down to Our Children, as they have been passed down from generation to generation, something happened which couldn’t be ignored.
With the realization that to be the force necessary to affect change in the world for every child, came the discovery of mountains of resources that would have to be approved by Our Circle.
What should have been apparent was the fact that the job had already been started, but wasn’t realized until we came very close to losing what means most to us.
This is what caused the problem, or should I say a part of the problem, something none of us had ever heard. We now know few people know very little of this subject, if any at all, for we have baited conversation. Although from this point on, that will not be the case.
Parenting is a journey filled with many ups and downs, challenges and celebrations, joy and love.
I remember the day I found out that I was expecting. We were not planning to get pregnant and it was not an ideal time for me career-wise, but nevertheless, I was over the moon with excitement. My boyfriend and I had been together for seven years and we became overjoyed at the thought of starting a family together.
The day of our first appointment was life-changing. We watched the monitor and saw a tiny speck flicker on the screen; a heartbeat. So many emotions coursed through us but most pronounced was love, love for this tiny little bean that was growing each day inside of me.
Throughout my pregnancy I read constantly about fetus development, pregnancy and birth. I watched television shows about birth and babies. I received parenting advice and became as educated as I could, and when the day came to meet our baby, I was ready.
I had an easy pregnancy and accomplished my goal of having a non-medicated birth. It was not easy but we had a wonderful doula to guide us through. In an instant, we became parents to a baby girl.
As a licensed counselor specializing in child and family therapy, I am no stranger to parenting practices. I have seen great parents and not-so-great ones. I have seen parents who were willing to make changes to fit the needs of their children as well as those who were not.
I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be long before my daughter was ever conceived. I knew I wanted to be loving, responsive, empathetic and a good role model. As a counselor, I knew of the importance that attachment has in the development of a child. I used Attachment Theory with my clients and, as time passed, I slowly learned that the type of parenting I used with my baby had a name, Attachment Parenting.
Dr. William Sears coined the term Attachment Parenting (AP), which places emphasis on the natural, biological instincts of mothers and fathers and is a style of parenting that focuses on the attachment between parent and child. It promotes the use of responsive, nurturing and empathetic parenting methods as a means to create strong emotional bonds that have long-lasting benefits to child and parent alike.
The organization Attachment Parenting International has outlined eight guiding principles for this style of parenting. Some of those principles include Feeding with Love and Respect, Responding with Sensitivity, Using Nurturing Touch, and Practicing Positive Discipline.
So what does Attachment Parenting look like in practice? The answer to that question is different for each family.
For me, it means educating myself as much as possible about pregnancy, birth and parenting. It includes breastfeeding, babywearing, and co-sleeping (baby sleeps in the same room as the parent). It means not leaving my daughter to “cry it out” in her crib.
Rather than saying “no” all of the time, I use preventive measures and redirection. I will never hit my child and I respect and empathize with her feelings.
It does not mean that I give in to her every whim or that I coddle her, and it does not mean that she will not be disciplined as she continues to grow and explore and learn as some people associate with AP. It simply means that I use a gentle, calm and understanding style of parenting in which I prefer to be her guide through life, not her dictator.
And there is a large community of like-minded parents in Nashville, you just need to know how to find them.
One avenue is through the API Nashville support group. There are breastfeeding support groups, babywearing groups and many more. And for those parents looking to learn more about Attachment Parenting, there also is now a class being held at Nashville Birth and Babies in Brentwood.
Victoria Steiner is a licensed clinical professional counselor specializing in child and family therapy and a parent educator at Nashville Birth and Babies in Brentwood. She has used Attachment Theory and AP principles in her work with clients as well as with her 1-year-old daughter.
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
PHOENIX (CN) – The Department of Homeland Security blew off FOIA requests for information on the abuse of immigrant children in immigration custody, the ACLU claims in court.
The ACLU sued the DHS and its creatures, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on Wednesday in Federal Court.
In its December 2014 FOIA request, the ACLU says, it sought “to shed light on longstanding allegations of abusive treatment of children by Border Patrol, including prolonged detention in degrading and inhumane conditions, as well as DHS oversight agencies’ handling of those allegations.”
None of the agencies have responded, the ACLU says.
“This case is about the systemic failure of multiple institutions to protect some of the most vulnerable among us,” ACLU of Arizona staff attorney James Lyall said in a statement. “Under any reasonable definition, the neglect and mistreatment that these children experience in Border Patrol custody qualifies as child abuse, and federal officials and contractors are required to report that abuse under applicable child protection laws.” The ACLU and other civil rights organizations sent an administrative complaint to DHS in *June 2014, claiming 116 immigrant children had been abused by the Border Patrol.
“One quarter of these children reported physical abuse, including sexual assault, beatings, and the use of stress positions by Border Patrol agents, and more than half reported various forms of verbal abuse, including death threats,” the June complaint stated. “Many reported being denied blankets and bedding and attempting to sleep on the floors of unsanitary, overcrowded, and frigid cells.”
Eighty percent of the children said they were not properly provided with food and water, and nearly as many said they were detained for more than the 72-hour maximum. About half of the children said they were denied medical care, including a number who required hospitalization.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske acknowledged after the ACLU’s June complaint that the allegations regarding holding room conditions were “absolutely spot-on,” and said his agency and DHS would investigate.
In October, however, the Office of the Inspector General “reported it would be ‘curtailing routine inspections,’ and has issued no subsequent findings or taken any other public action in response to the complaint,” the ACLU says in the new lawsuit.
In fact, “Border Patrol restricts access to detention facilities such that attorneys, advocates, and family members are generally prohibited from meeting with detainees, many of whom are held incommunicado for days. Immigrant children – like all immigrants – have no guarantee of legal counsel in removal proceedings; without legal representation, children are far less likely to report abuse or pursue civil rights complaints involving government officials,” the complaint states.
The ACLU says that the volume of these complaints “point to systemic deficiencies in Border Patrol’s detention policies and practices, and yet the full extent of these problems is still unknown.”