The next time you see a group of motorcycles rumbling down the road it’s possible you are seeing a bunch of bikers on the way to hug a teddy bear. Houston Public Radio’s Rod Rice reports on bikers who offer love and support to kids who need it.
The motorcyclists in question are members of BACA or Bikers Against Child Abuse.
“BACA was originated in 1995 by a licensed child therapist in Utah. He saw a need for the private sector to get involved with these children when they’re involved in the system.”
That’s Ken Kylberg, whose road name is “Scrappy.” He’s the President of BACA’s Houston Chapter. One way that BACA helps an abused child is to be in the courtroom during the child’s testimony. Often, family members are witnesses and therefore can not be in the courtroom, so the child has to recount the details of what happened all alone while facing the alleged abuser.
“So we fixed that problem. We have a very, very strict code of conduct. When we get in the courtroom we’re not to look at the jury, the perpetrator, the defense attorney or any of the family. We concentrate only on the child. When the child’s finished we leave the courtroom.”
The relationship with the child begins long before trial. Kylberg says BACA works with victim’s assistance programs and District Attorney’s offices in several area counties.
“They refer children to us. The families come to us and we have a meeting and at that point we assign primary contacts to that child. Those folks are for that child 24/7. They can contact those folks about anything they want to talk about except the case.”
Then comes the part involving bikers and teddy bears. Members of BACA ride as group to the child’s home for a symbolic adoption. Kylberg says first, the child is given a road name. Only he and the primary contacts know the child’s real name.
“We go to this adoption and present the child with a vest with a patch on the back that says ‘I’m in the family of BACA’. They get pins and a teddy bear that’s hugged by every member that’s there. That way at night if they want something to hold on to that has some love involved in it, well, it has a lot of hugs.”
BACA is not a social organization in which a few do most of the work. To be an active member you must pass a criminal background check, be active in 80% of activities and ride with the group for a year before being made a full member. Bikers Against Child Abuse has chapters in 28 states. There are 22 chapters in Texas and three in Australia. The Houston group meets in Baytown. There is also a Brazoria County group.
Ken “Scrappy” Kylberg says even he was a bit skeptical about the group before he joined but he says once you meet the first child you’re hooked.
You’ll find a link for more about BACA at kuhf-dot-org.