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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Bikers Against Child Abuse reach out to troubled youth

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) representatives who spoke recently at the Key Issues for Today's Teens Day, sponsored by the Monett Kiwanis Club, posed after their presentation with event organizer Dr. David Honeycutt, at center, and Deann Crockett, center left, Key Club sponsor.
An active approach to combating child abuse was explained to Monett High School students by representatives of Bikers Against Child Abuse during the recent Key Issues for Today's Teens program. The event brought presenters from five areas of expertise to offer insights on contemporary problems.

Ken Abramovitz and Neil Johnson along with six other members from Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) brought their bikes for display and spoke about the organization's emphasis.

The Seven Valleys Chapter of BACA consists of 20 members who wear official patches and 20 supporters. A supporter must be a member for one year and then investigated before they can become a patch member.

"We exist as a body of bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live," Abramovitz said.

There are several levels of involvement displayed by BACA members. A ride may be organized, uniting as many BACA members as are able to attend, as a show of support for a reported child abuse victim. Participants will go as a group to the home of a child where the parent(s) and/or guardians will be present to assist in presenting the child with a patch, stickers and a Polaroid photograph of the child with his/her new biker family.

"If the child is afraid, it is our hope the child will use the photograph as a comfort to convey the message 'I am not alone; you don't want to mess with my family,' " said Abramovitz.

If such a demonstration is not sufficient to deter further abuse or harassment, several BACA members will be sent for further exposure. This group of BACA members will create a presence at the home of the child, being visible at times when the family might be the most vulnerable. The purpose of BACA's presence is to deter further abuse and to protect the children and the family, if necessary.

If the physical presence of BACA members does not deter the abuser, a formal letter will be drafted by the chapter president or vice president in the area in which the abuser lives. This letter will be written on BACA letterhead. The substance of the letter will be to explain to the perpetrator that BACA is prepared to take "whatever steps are necessary to become the obstacle to further abuse," the speakers said.

"While it is against the purpose of BACA to purposely engage a perpetrator, we will ask for the general geographical location of the offender and conduct a Neighborhood Awareness Ride in which we will ride to the general location given to us and go door to door letting people know who we are, hand out stickers to kids, and distribute our literature regarding our mission and how we function," Johnson said.

BACA does not condone, support or participate in the use of aggression, violence or physical force in any manner. Members will withdraw the physical presence to avoid any contact but will respond "with commitment and loyalty" to protect the child member.

BACA members also discussed the practice of attending court hearings as a show of support to help a child victim feel less intimidated and thus give more accurate testimony regarding the alleged abuse. If the child requests BACA presence in the courtroom, the parent or guardian for the child must petition the child's attorney, who then will intercede on behalf of the child to the presiding judge.

When possible, the two bikers assigned to the child as primary contacts attend the hearing. If those persons are not available, a petition may be made to the general membership for their attendance and support. A listing of the court dates and times is kept and updated on the BACA hotline at all times.

The spokesmen stressed no physical confrontation with the perpetrator will be tolerated by BACA. Anyone acting in such a manner will be acting outside of the scope of BACA and will be held completely and solely accountable for his/her actions.

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