What is Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) Inc.?
Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (BACA) is a non-profit, 501-C-3 tax exempt organization that exists to provide aid, comfort, safety, and support for children that have been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. We are dedicated to the principle that one of the basic rights of childhood is to be safe and protected, and when the child’s family and environment have failed them, we stand ready to provide it to them.
BACA is a strong organization of dedicated individuals who are willing to sacrifice any and all in order to protect and secure a child’s basic right to a happy childhood.
Why is there a need for BACA?
BACA was founded by John Paul “Chief” Lilly. Chief is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor, and taught as Part-time faculty at Brigham Young University for seventeen years. He has been in practice for over twenty years, most of which has been spent in the treatment of abused children. Chief became keenly aware that while the system was able to offer much in the way of helping children to heal, there were gaps that needed to be filled.
The two major gaps were: providing for the safety of the children and, providing funding for their therapy. Even with the court involvement to protect children from further abuse with the issuance of protective orders and removing perpetrators from neighborhoods, the perpetrators were continued to access and wound the children. It would be naive and misrepresentative to believe that law enforcement officials could protect these children from their perpetrators on a continual basis. Further, many children that are abused do not qualify for therapy funding because their cases did not meet the basic requirements of the rules of evidence, and the cases are closed. While it might be clinically evident that a child has been abused, that child might not qualify for therapy benefits because he/she was too frightened to provide enough evidence for the case to be pursued. Chief noted that safe children are more capable of telling the truth because the threats made by an abuser are offset by the presence of dedicated bikers that have now become part of the child’s world.
In addition to becoming a presence in the life of wounded children, BACA also provides for the children by attending court proceedings and parole hearings with them, escorting them to and from school or errands if necessary, and many other ways to insure that the children are free from fear and can return to their previous level of adaptive functioning.
One of the greatest and unique assets of BACA for the children is its’ biker family attitude. Bikers are a tightly knitted group. The brotherhood and family values are not just a way to live, but a way of life. One for all and all for one, is not just a quote, it is our reality. The children have an uncanny sense for honesty and trust. The children can feel when they are being lied to or deceived. When a large group of bikers ride to a child’s home to support and honor that child, and the bikers tell that child that he/she does not need to be afraid anymore because the bikers are there and will be there under any circumstances, the children feel the security of a brotherhood. Children understand that child abusers are cowards that prey on the helpless. After children have been introduced into the BACA family they are not helpless or powerless anymore.
How did BACA start?
BACA started as an idea to help one wounded child. This child was eight years old at the time, and was so frightened of his perpetrators that he would not leave his residence. Chief, having had kind and loving experiences with bikers in his youth was moved to include this boy in his biker circle. Within weeks, this boy was seen all over town riding his bike and playing with other children. The idea to rally the biker community in defense and in support of children was actualized in 1995 when the first ride was held to visit wounded children and bring them into the biker family- that first ride had twenty seven bikes present. From there it was only a matter of time before the word spread quickly about what was happening in Utah. Shortly after forming the first chapter in Utah, another chapter was formed in Utah, then Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas, and the rest is part of the BACA history. What was started as an idea was actualized by the dedicated and heartfelt love of bikers across the country.
Who are the members of BACA?
First and foremost, BACA members are bikers. We all share a common love of the open road on two wheels and the brotherhood and sisterhood that can only be found in the biker community. Professionally, members of BACA come from all walks of life. There are professionals, blue collar, and everything in between. BACA only discriminates against one kind of person- child abusers. Everyone else meeting the basic requirements and has the time, the commitment, and the energy are welcome.
What is required to become a member of BACA?
To become a full-patched BACA member a person must have regular access to a motorcycle that will do the speed limit. They must be 18 years old or older. They must submit to a federal fingerprinted background check. They must attend monthly BACA meetings, rides, court hearings, other BACA events and ride with the BACA chapter for one year “minimum”. They are then presented to the governing Board of Directors and must be unanimously voted in to become a member.
What measures are taken to insure that no pedophiles can become members of BACA?
All member applicants must submit to and pass a federal fingerprint background check. They must attend BACA meetings and events during their first year and must be unanimously approved worthy by a Board of Directors. Further protection is implemented by policy that does not allow any one member to be alone with a child, ever.
Do BACA members receive training?
Every year at the annual international meeting and conference BACA conducts more than a dozen workshops. Some of the sectionals focus on such issues as: childhood trauma, the effects of abuse on children, effective means of communicating with victims of childhood abuse, biker conduct with the children, and other topics relevant to the safe and gentle implementation of our mission with the children. Additionally, every BACA chapter has access to a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP). That LMHP is also responsible for conducting training for the BACA membership. While our LMHPs are from differing disciplines, their dedication and desire to help unifies us in our mission.
How does BACA protect its members from accusations of child abuse?
First, BACA members have to make sure that a referral is a legitimate case. There are people who will try to take advantage of our mission for their own gain, but our kindness should never be mistaken for weakness. There are several avenues to take when getting background information about a referral case. There are police reports that are reviewed, court transcripts, and medical records, which can and are used as verification. In some cases interviews with family and friends can be helpful in establishing or discrediting a reported circumstance. Once the case is established to be legitimate, the members get a feel for the people involved fairly quickly. Any information that doesn’t seem right is addressed with all.
Secondly, we have at least two members present when meeting with referrals at all times. Not only does this give better protection against accusations it also gives our members better insight and interpretations as to the situation with the abused child. It also adds to the feeling of security for the abused child by having big friends around.
How does BACA receive referrals?
BACA members get calls from parents, guardians, police, child-care agencies, etc. informing us about potential referrals. Once we receive a call we must then verify that it is in the system and is an actual case of child abuse. Sometimes calls come for situations that are not in the system and we instruct the people involved that any abuse must be reported to the authorities before we can become involved. We give them direction as to whom to contact in their area. This not only gets law enforcement and child-care agencies involved where needed, it also weeds out the false claims that we see from time to time. Some people incorrectly think that we are vigilantes for hire; we are not.
How is BACA received by the general public?
Because we are bikers, there are times when the uninformed may have understandable, but unfounded concerns about BACA. The media, Hollywood and some unscrupulous authors have helped to stereotype all bikers as people to be feared. Because of these misconceptions about bikers in general, BACAs image is sometimes harmed.
In order to counter the misconceptions, BACA chapters conduct and attend community events to meet with the public and answer questions people may have. This not only introduces BACA to the public to educate them about what we are, it also helps raise awareness of child abuse and demonstrates an extremely effective venue through which the epidemic can be addressed. Public presentations also have proven a very effective way for people to get involved in preventing child abuse. Once people talk to us for a few minutes and get an understanding of our commitment to children, they are very supportive. Over and over we hear comments such as How can I help?; Its about time somebody is really doing something.; and I wish you guys were around when I was a kid.
On the other hand, we are not especially popular with those that have been incarcerated for their actions against children. Nor are we popular with those that prey on children. We have, do, and will continue to make enemies of those who harm children.
How is BACA received by law enforcement agencies?
BACA is well received by law enforcement. Our mission itself provides that there should be no question of who we are and what we are about. Even so, we take steps to remove any doubt.
Chapter representatives meet informally with Law Enforcement Organizations (LEO in biker terminology) in order to introduce BACA. Brochures and contact information are left with an open invitation for a meeting to answer any questions they may have. BACA also meets with law enforcement when we take a referral in a particular area in case residents may have concerns about a large group of bikers coming into their community. This is to assure the police that our mission is not to take vigilante action against perpetrators. This also makes it easier for the police to reassure the citizens that they have nothing to fear from us. Police may have a temporary presence in an area where we are riding to talk to anyone who may be concerned and also see how we operate. Many police agencies have escorted us to the homes of our children.
We notify the police when we will be doing a security detail requested by the family. This makes it easier for the police involved. In many ways we go out of our way to work cooperatively with the police.
Does BACA support legislation that protects and helps children?
Due to our 501-C-3 status, we are prohibited from organizational lobbying efforts. As an organization we are unable to support legislation, but as voting individuals we are free to vote in accordance with our best judgment. Collectively we can (as voting individuals) have a great impact on current laws that fail to protect or enforce protection for our wounded children. We can, as individuals, support other organizations that facilitate the lobbying of bills to the Senate and Congress.
How is BACA presently funded?
BACA is funded by donations from the public. We currently exchange items for donations such as hats, tee shirts, blankets, mugs, pins, etc. Some donations come from corporations, other charitable organizations such as Rotary Clubs, Lions, Eagles, Shriners, popular rock bands, celebrities, private business owners, and other motorcycle clubs and organizations. Many BACA members have made personal sacrifices, using their own funds to help the support the mission.
How are BACA funds distributed and for what purposes?
Presently, most funds are raised and used by individual chapters. It has long been the philosophy for BACA to use monies in the communities from which they are raised. The purposes of the funds are multifaceted. BACAs administrative costs include telephone services, Internet services, website, postage, office supplies, printing of brochures and other resources.
When we visit a child we also use our financial resources to provide him or her with BACA mementos such as a vest, patches, pins, a stuffed BACA bear or monkey, a blanket, and toys to give the child a sense of security and belonging. The vest has a small patch on the back that identifies the child as part of our BACA family.
BACA also finances a therapy assistance fund to support children’s therapy when they are left without resources. BACA contracts with licensed therapists known for their expertise in working with children and pays them a discounted rate for their services. In this way, BACA sacrifices, the therapist sacrifices, and the child benefits. The therapy assistance fund is also used to help finance activities that will help empower the child to feel more secure in their environment. Examples are karate lessons, cheerleader camp etc. No one in BACA is ever compensated for their efforts in BACA. 100% of all monies donated to BACA goes to support the mission.
Does BACA have regular audits?
BACA was issued permanent recognition by the Internal Revenue Service in June of 1998 as a tax-exempt, charitable 501-C-3 organization. BACA is also classified as a public charity under sections 509-A-1, and 170-b-1-A-vi of the Internal Revenue Code. BACA qualifies to receive tax-deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. The international treasury committee conducts an audit of each chapter periodically to ensure that all monies are being used to support the mission.
What are BACAs greatest financial needs?
Our most pressing financial need is for the day-to-day operations. It has always been against our philosophy to charge dues within BACA, as we do not believe that it should cost anyone any money to stand up for a child. Most national organizations rely heavily on dues to fund their operations, but given that we are philosophically opposed to this manner of generating operating money, we rely on the donations of generous people and volunteerism from our members.
What is the significance of the patch?
According to JP Lilly, the founder of BACA, and Christy Sparti, the BACA National Art Director and originator of the BACA patch, the following areas hold significance:
- Red represents the “blood shed by wounded children”
- White represents the “innocence of the children”
- Black represents the “dark times the child goes through”
- The fist represents “our commitment to stop child abuse”
- The skull and crossbones is the symbol to the “death to child abuse”
- The chains represent “our united organization”