|Bikers breaking chains of child abuse|
|August 31, 2012 09:22 pm|
Left to right: Rooster, Tattoo, Jarhead and Wingnut stand with Jarhead’s grandson Austin Clewell, 8, at the festival Friday. The Pilot/Lorna Rodriguez
Last September, a friend called “Tattoo” and asked him if he had heard of the website www.bacaworld.org. When Tattoo checked it out, he was incredibly moved by what he saw.
“After reading the website, I got really passionate, and said ‘We need to get this started,’” Tattoo, said.
BACA stands for Bikers Against Child Abuse.
The nonprofit’s “basic mission is to power abused children not be afraid of the world in which they live,” Tattoo said.
There are chapters in 37 states across the United States, and chapters in six countries.
After learning about BACA, Tattoo worked hard to form a local chapter in Brookings. After months of effort, the Wild Rivers Coast Chapter is up and running.
Like Tattoo, all of the members go by road names for confidentiality reasons; they want to protect the children they serve.
“I just got to the point where I’ve never been a member of a club. For myself, I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t stand for something, I stood for nothing,” said Tattoo, President of the local chapter. “I’m a grandfather of four, and I don’t understand how people can hurt these little kids, but it needs to be stopped.”
The local group, comprised of six members, meets at 7 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month at Fred Meyer. The meetings are open to the public.
Today (Sept. 1) and tomorrow BACA will have an information booth and a raffle at the Slam’n Salmon Ocean Derby.
Anyone interested in BACA is encouraged to stop by.
“We’re just trying to get the word out,” Tattoo said.
The nonprofit works with law enforcement and child agencies to identify children who could benefit from the program.
BACA only works with active cases that are documented by courts, law enforcement and advocacy centers.
After BACA is contacted by one of the agencies, the BACA/child liaison determines that the case is legitimate, contacts the family and an initial ride is organized to meet the child. The local BACA chapter rides to meet the child, and if the initial contact goes well, the child is “adopted,” and given a vest with a BACA patch, according to BACA’s website.
All members go through extensive international background checks. If they are not cleared, they are not allowed to attend an adoption.
Once a child is adopted, they are given a primary and secondary contact.
“They’re encouraged to call these two people anytime they feel any type of fear,” Tattoo said. “Since (BACA) was established, we’ve shown we can provide the type of security that other people can’t. We’re the only organization that does what we do. We’re willing to put ourselves on the line to protect a child. We don’t condone violence, but we’re ready to protect a child by any means that is necessary.”
If this means accompanying a child to court to testify against a perpetrator, BACA members go to court.
If it means escorting a child to school, BACA provides an escort.
If it means standing guard outside a child’s house all night, BACA stands guard.
If it takes drafting a formal letter to the perpetrator explaining that BACA is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to stop further abuse, BACA writes a letter.
Or, if it takes conducting a “Neighborhood Awareness Ride” in the general location of the offender to go door to door to let people know who BACA is and what it does, BACA members go door to door, according to its website.
“We’re there 24/7,” Tattoo said. “We’re there until a parent or child says otherwise.
“Every child deserves to be happy and to be able to go to the playground and play without worrying someone’s going to hurt them.”
The local chapter is still contacting people and establishing connections – and is ready to help children in all of Curry County.
BACA tries to stay within a two-hour drive time so it can respond quickly, but members will travel further on a case by case basis.
In addition to providing a physical presence for children, BACA will provide children with a therapist if they fall through the cracks, or will pay for a child to go to camp.
“Every situation will vary, ...” Tattoo said.
“We would like to see this take off in Oregon,” he said.