By Sarah Jones
QUAD CITIES, Iowa and Illinois (KWQC) – These bikers have to use road names for their own protection.
And when a child calls them on either side of the river “we will ride out to this child’s home we always call law enforcement first, because when you get twenty or thirty bikes showing up in your neighborhood, someone is going to call,” says Pearl, the child liaison for Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.).
Big Fun, Vice President of B.A.C.A. in the Quad Cities say when they get there they will check the house and make sure it is secure. And then bikers will set up around the perimeter. “We’ll stay there until that child does not feel fear if that’s days, weeks, that’s what it is,” he adds.
Bear, Big Fun, Pearl and Squatch say they are part of a group of bikers who work together to empower abused children.
“A child might need us before going to court, they might need us in court. judges have allowed us to sit in court while a child testifies, we may show up if that kid is having a nightmare. we can activate our chapters to create a physical boundary around that child’s home so that child knows we have their back,” says Pearl.
Squatch, who is a B.A.C.A. president says “it works because we’re big and scary.” And because of the history of bikers, the way they carry themselves as well as the myths surrounding them.
It is completely up to a child whether he or she wants to join this biker family. And members say that’s essential to empowerment.
“So many choices have been taken away from this child it’s a way for them to use their voice again.,” says Pearl.
Once a child joins they receive a cut embroidered with the road name of their choosing. And Pearl says while the biker members have to use road names for protection, “when the child chooses a road name that’s one of those steps of empowerment.”
“Each child also receives a backpack, a BACA blanket which provides a sense of security,” says Pearl as she wraps her arms around herself as if she is tightly capped in a blanket.
“And a teddy bear that we fill with love for them,” says Bear, B.A.C.A. in the Quad Cities’ head of security, as he hugs a small brown teddy bear. If a child feels the bear has been drained of the love it was once filled in all they need to do is call. Members say they will ride out to the child’s house and each hug the bear to refill it with love.
The children can also choose if they want to go for a motorcycle ride. And if they decide they want to, they “get to choose the motorcycle of their choice and go for a short ride around their neighborhood,” says Pearl.
Many members say they were drawn to join B.A.C.A. because they have seen or know of someone who has endured abuse. And it is something they want to stamp out.
“No child deserves to live in fear,” says Big Fun who is vice president of B.A.C.A. in the Quad Cities.
“We call these kids out heroes because these kids once they’re empowered they’re able to stand up and face their abusers (in court),” says Pearl.
All members are volunteers. And B.A.C.A. says members have to pass a FBI background check, child abuse registry, and a security screening. They also encourage potential members to attend several meetings before joining. Meetings are held the last Sunday of every month at 6 pm at Ceder Memorial Christian Church in Davenport.
B.A.C.A. launched in the 1990s because of a member in Utah known as Chief. “In 1995 a child play therapist saw that a child would fall off between sessions, maybe the perp’s family would drive by and kids would regress. And he (the play therapist) had a history with bikers in his past and decided to involve them with the children and the first child ride had about 27 bikes and it just grew from there,” says Squatch. He says the group has over 10,000 members worldwide.
“We’ve seen kids who haven’t come out of their house for 45 days or something come out and start painting guys fingernails,” says Bear.
And Squatch says the growth is what it’s all about. “Our payday comes when that child no longer needs us and the court case is done. but once a B.A.C.A. child always a B.A.C.A. child. Could be ten years down the road, if they need us they call us and we’ll be there for them,” says Squatch.
B.A.C.A. says it’s a non-profit and that they do some fundraising including a ride that’s taking place on May 18. 2019. They say they are not counselors or mentors so they sometimes use the funds they’ve raised to help cover of the cost of outlets that the kids may want to try that could help them cope like art of boxing.
B.A.C.A. Quad Cities can be reached via the local helpline number at (563)284-2131 or via email at email@example.com.