WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – A group of unlikely advocates is making sure children who are victims of abuse feel safe and empowered.
Back in 2019, 10 on Your Side introduced you to B.A.C.A., or Bikers Against Child Abuse. Members of the nonprofit were trying to recruit enough members in Hampton Roads to form a local chapter. They used to be a part of the Richmond-area chapter, but now they have accomplished their goal.
“We are opening our meetings to the public now, since January of this year,” said JimDawg, who is president of the Seven Cities Chapter.
Everyone in the group goes by their patch name, like JimDawg and Hawkeye.
“Empower these kids, that’s all this is about is just empowering these kids,” said Hawkeye, who is the Tri-City Chapter president, which is based out of the Richmond area.
B.A.C.A is an international nonprofit that was created by a licensed clinical therapist back in 1995.
“His goal was to just close a gap in the therapy process,” said JimDawg. “What he was seeing was that the children he was helping, they’d just go home, their perpetrator would drive by their house or somehow intimidate them. So what he wanted to do was just get a group of his friends together, visit this child, and it had such an impact that B.A.C.A. was born from that one single ride.”
The group has a series of programs to help kids who have been victims of abuse, and it starts with a phone call.
“The case needs to be reported to some official or some agency that we can verify,” JimDawg said. “Once that’s done, we go and do an intake, meet with the child, meet with the family, make sure that the case meets our mission.”
The child is then brought into the group and given a back patch and name, like JimDawg or Hawkeye.
They’re also given things like a “B.A.C.A. bear.”
“We fill these bears with love, hug them between us, give them to the child and say ‘Hey, if this bear needs to be refilled, we’ll come back.’ and that gives the child a reason to reach out to us,” JimDawg said.
B.A.C.A. members will accompany kids to court cases, school, home — wherever they are needed.
“We stay there as long as we need to, if we need to surround their house for a week until they feel safe, get them on the school bus in the morning or get them to school, whatever it takes to make that child feel safe,” said JimDawg.
With COVID-19, there have been some changes. They believe cases are on the rise, but fewer cases are being reported.
“Without the schools, teachers and the other organizations that tend to report these things, they’re usually the first ones to notice that there’s a lot of cases that are slipping through,” said Hawkeye. “A lot of these kids just aren’t being recognized.”
The members say if the cases do go up, they’ll be ready to help at a moment’s notice, determined to help as many kids as they can.
“It’s all the difference in the world to see the kids come out of their shells,” said Hawkeye. “I mean, they’ve been through so much and to be able to enjoy the world again, makes all the difference.”
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so the group is planning a series of events every weekend this month to let people know about their services.
Here are the events they have planned for the month of April at local Starbucks stores:
- April 10 and 11: Landstown Commons 3376 Princess Anne Road #209, Virginia Beach
- April 17 and 18: 249 Hanbury Road E #100, Chesapeake
- April 24 and 25: 809 Eden Way N #110, Chesapeake
B.A.C.A members will be on site from 3-7 p.m. on Saturdays and 2-6 p.m. on Sundays.
Their annual 100 Mile Ride is on Saturday, May 15, leaving from Bayside Harley in Portsmouth. Registration starts at 10:30 a.m., and kickstands are up at noon.