While the world can be a tough place full of challenges and injustices, hope is the thread that keeps us moving forward. And sometimes, hope can be found in the most unlikely of places.
Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A) is an inspiring non-profit dedicated to creating a safer environment for children who might be at risk of abuse or neglect. In the B.A.C.A mission statement, the group says they “exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live.” “We let [children] know that, while we’re around, nobody’s going to mess with them,” Chops, president of the B.A.C.A Seven Bridges Chapter in Jacksonville, told WJCT. Members of B.A.C.A work with local official bodies to meet with children who are scared or vulnerable, in order to offer security, protection and reassurance. Children are often gifted with their own special “biker” vest with the B.A.C.A patch sewn on, as well as bumper stickers and other donated gifts.
B.A.C.A members can provide escorts for children if they feel unsafe in their neighborhoods, and have been known to accompany children to therapy sessions and court hearings. Just last December, members of the Kaw River Chapter of B.A.C.A in the United States provided a motorcade to escort a young girl and her family to testify at a criminal hearing in Wyandotte County. They also stood by the girl in court as the hearing proceeded. Rebecca Randles, the attorney for the family, said that the presence of the bikers in the courtroom “altered the sense of power for that little girl.” And back in 2016, members of B.A.C.A’s Los Angeles chapter stood guard over the house of a fifteen-year-old who was pressing charges against her stepfather. They also accompanied the girl to court when she testified.
The girl gratefully described the comfort of having the bikers in the room. “I looked over and B.A.C.A. is there, and they’re just sitting there with their thumbs up giving me the emotional support that I needed.” Bikers Against Child Abuse was founded in 1995 by a biker and licensed social worker named John Paul “Chief” Lilly. After meeting an eight-year-old boy who was too scared to leave his own house, Chief welcomed the boy into his biking community to offer a sense of security. Chief immediately noticed a big improvement in the boy’s sociability and confidence, and realised the positive potential of the biking community’s power.
The organization now has chapters all over the world, and has had a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of children. As the president of B.A.C.A’s LA chapter, Tombstone, says – “We are scarier than their perpetrator, we are scarier than their demons, and it works. We are that single strand of barbed wire between hell and happiness for them.”