Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) is an international nonprofit that recruits volunteer bikers as a system of support for kids who are the victims of family abuse. They’ve been around for twenty years but are finally getting the recognition they deserve for the important support they provide.
BACA organizations are all over the world, in places like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States. They go through extensive background checks and training for handling sensitive situations. The bikers give the child their own BACA vest and adopt child-friendly names such as “Scooter” and “Pooh Bear.” They visit the child when requested as well as standing watch if the child is afraid of their abuser stopping by the home. If a child is forced to give testimony of their abuse in court, the bikers will escort the child to the stand.
And they do it for free.
The group is a nonprofit and sometimes in necessary situations, the money comes out of their own pockets—like the time five of them each put in $100 to take a teenage girl who had been sexually abused to get new clothes and have her hair and nails done.
The idea behind the group is that even kids know that nobody messes with bikers. Their reputation as fearless and protective translates to children who have been made to feel powerless and scared.
In 1995, clinical social worker and professor John Paul Lilly came up with the idea. He had been working with a young boy who was too afraid to leave his house because of bullying. Lilly could relate—he was abused as a young boy. But he had something his client did not—neighborhood bikers who befriended him.
“They became my family,” Lilly says. “I just never felt more secure than when I was with them.”
With that knowledge, he came up with the idea for BACA.
“Bikers have a soft spot for kids,” Lilly, who has been riding since he was a teenager, explained. “I couldn’t quote you a figure, but I know that a lot of bikers had been abused as kids. When they see a chance to step in and release some of their own demons, they have no problem standing up for a child. It was just such a natural fit.”
“The biker image is what makes this work,” says BACA volunteer Rembrandt, 54. “Golfers against child abuse does not have the same feel. The pink alligator shirt and golf shoes standing in the driveway doesn’t do the same thing.”
“When we tell a child they don’t have to be afraid, they believe us,” another volunteer named Pipes says. “When we tell them we will be there for them, they believe us.”