WACO, TX — Aggressive. Callous. Violent.
It's the common perception of a biker, but Bikers Against Child Abuse is working to change the standard and a child's life. B.A.C.A is a nonprofit organization with chapters across the world, including one right here in Central Texas.
The group works with children who have an open case either with the courts or Child Protective Services by providing friendship and support.
Just their presence can make a difference in a child's life.
“When you have a bunch of big brothers and sisters like us riding up on motorcycles, they're not afraid anymore," explained Keith "Deuce" Wallace, president of the B.A.C.A. Waco Chapter. “One of our B.A.C.A kids from a few years ago was sitting in court. The defense attorney walked up and asked the child on the stand, ‘Well, you know court is very intimidating, even for adults that come into court. It's a little bit of a scary place. Aren't you afraid?’ And that child looked at that attorney in the face, pointed at all of us sitting in the courtroom and said, ‘I'm not afraid of anything. Do you see my family sitting out there?’ And it was all everybody could do to not laugh, to keep composure in the courtroom.”
Child abuse is a problem in Texas.
B.A.C.A's impact is backed by science.
“That's a very difficult time for children. It's very confusing, first of all, because they get asked lots of questions. And so, especially when they're younger, sometimes the story changes because they feel pressure. Sometimes the parent abusing them may be threatening and saying, ‘If this happens, mom or dad may go to jail,’ or they may be threatening the other parent. So it's a very, very difficult time," explained Retired Colonel Jeffrey Yarvis, Ph.D. with Texas A&M-Central Texas. "So the role of having a steady, reassuring adult can be a huge mitigating factor in alleviating some of that stress, providing reassurance to that child and the nuturing and surrogate parenting they may not be getting.”
However, B.A.C.A was not immune to the effects of the pandemic.
“Unfortunately the pandemic really hurt our mission. The courts were closed, so they were not taking on any new kids at the time, as far as actually holding court proceedings," Deuce explained. "...and it's not like abuse and neglect or victimization stop during the pandemic. It's just people that would normally notice a difference in a child didn't have access to those kids to make those referrals.”
The majority of those referrals come from the schools.
“So when the school shut down, so did our ability to learn about kids that might benefit from B.A.C.A empowerment," Deuce continued.
Now that life is seemingly returning to normal, the group is hoping to get back to their mission of helping children.
B.A.C.A is a nonprofit, so members of the organization do not receive a paycheck. However, Deuce says they all still have a "payday."
“Our payday is when we sit in court and we hear that child read their victim impact statement to the person who's now been convicted of the crime and then watch them go out in shackles. That's the payday, because for that child, that's closure with this chapter so they can move on with their life," he said. “We don't want children to be afraid. It's not right for a child to live in fear. So our goal is to do whatever it takes to overcome that.”
If you know or suspect child abuse, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.