No child deserves to live in fear.
July 19, 2012 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Bikers Against Child Abuse is an international non-profit with an annual budget of $200,000 and more than 160 chapters in 36 states and five countries. But it started with just one frightened 8-year-old boy in a therapist's office in Utah.
posted by Molesome (70 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
There's something wrong with that link. The words get blurry near the middle of the article, and it's hard to keep reading.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:40 AM on July 19, 2012 [45 favorites]

Metafilter: If you can't handle it, keep your shades on.
posted by mhoye at 9:43 AM on July 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

Link was OK for me.

Scary lookin' dudes with hearts of gold.

Must be my coffee giving me that warm inside feeling.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:43 AM on July 19, 2012

My eyes are kind of watery. Must be something contagious going around here.
posted by titantoppler at 9:52 AM on July 19, 2012

Good cause and good PR-- around here we only have "Bikers Against Acceptable Noise Levels" and "Bikers Against Traffic Lanes."
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:01 AM on July 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

Great story
posted by francesca too at 10:02 AM on July 19, 2012

John Paul Lilly is a licensed clinical social worker and play therapist and a professor at Brigham Young University. In 1995, he was working with that 8-year-old boy, who was so afraid that he wouldn't leave his house, even though it was July and the other neighborhood kids were outside playing.
The boy would do well in therapy, but then his abusers would show up at his house at night, or leave a note on his bike, warning him that they were watching. The boy stayed terrified, and Lilly stayed frustrated.

who does that to kids? leaving a note on his that "we're watching you"???

just imagining the look on the face of someone who came to do harm and that person seeing a burly biker dude in the driveway.

dusty in here today....
posted by sio42 at 10:03 AM on July 19, 2012

> There's something wrong with that link. The words get blurry near the middle of the article, and it's hard to keep reading.

Holy crap.. you ain't kidding. Is that javascript? I can't figure it out...
posted by danl at 10:05 AM on July 19, 2012

Pipes recalls going to court with an 8-year-old boy, and how tiny he looked on the witness stand, his feet dangling a foot off the floor.
"It's scary enough for an adult to go to court," he says. "We're not going to let one of our little wounded kids go alone."
In court that day, the judge asked the boy, "Are you afraid?" No, the boy said.
Pipes says the judge seemed surprised, and asked, "Why not?"
The boy glanced at Pipes and the other bikers sitting in the front row, two more standing on each side of the courtroom door, and told the judge, "Because my friends are scarier than he is."

ok, i'm gonna have to go get some allergy meds or something. my eyes just won't stop with this watering.
posted by sio42 at 10:07 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had trouble loading the pages, but using the Print link worked fine.

I'm going to send this to every biker I know, and share the story with the folks I know who work with kids in this situation.

Thank you, Molesome.
posted by catlet at 10:08 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Holy crap.. you ain't kidding. Is that javascript? I can't figure it out...

Can't be - I have noscript on and the page is still all blurry in parts and why am I sniffling all of a sudden?
posted by rtha at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2012

I think we should add the link to their organization's web page, which has a bitchin' animated fist.
posted by emjaybee at 10:21 AM on July 19, 2012

Goddamnit, I thought you guys were kidding. I swear I'm using the latest version of Firefox, what is wrong?
posted by symbioid at 10:25 AM on July 19, 2012

Happens in Chrome too.
posted by dabitch at 10:27 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

His grandmother says he is scared to go out on the playground at recess in case his abuser shows up there.

Nytro will have none of that: "If he needs us, we will go to school and be there at recess, so he can play. We will do whatever it takes."

I lost it.
posted by rtha at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2012

I just want to give them all hugs for being so wonderful.
posted by alynnk at 10:39 AM on July 19, 2012

I lost count of how many times I choked up during that article. When I got to the part about the 8-year old who was able to point to her accuser in court because her BACA member had her on her lap, well it was all over. Thank you so much for linking to it, Molesome. I'm off to send a donation right now.

God, I LOVE hearing about people standing up for kids (and animals). So many people pay lipservice, but these guys are actually out there, taking 5-hr shifts standing in a scared girl's driveway so she won't have nightmares. I mean, seriously.
posted by widdershins at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2012 [12 favorites]

posted by Forktine at 10:48 AM on July 19, 2012

Good people. Thanks for the link.

Their web site is at if you feel led to make a donation.
posted by HuronBob at 10:52 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rock (left) and Nytro, both members of Bikers Against Child Abuse, regularly visit with 6-year-old Fast Track, one of their young charges.

Nice to see the American Gladiators were able to find rewarding careers after the show went into syndication.

Seriously, though, good work all around.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:52 AM on July 19, 2012

I was wondering if there was an O'Reilly book about this Onions Over IP protocol, but then I got to the end:

BACA policy is that its members use only road names in their work with children, making it less likely that an abuser could trace one of them back to a child. (Recognizable photographs do not have the same potential to be traced, and therefore are not considered a concern.

That's not really true these days. Fortunately, stalking bikers is generally considered a Bad Idea.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:56 AM on July 19, 2012

Her abuser is in jail, but his family members had tracked the girl down in Arizona and were banging on the grandmother's front door, demanding that she turn the girl over to them, shouting up at the second-floor window where the child was huddled in her bedroom. Her grandmother called BACA and then dialed 911.

What kind of FAMILY does that? That is horrifically messed up.
posted by Mojojojo at 10:57 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just want to give them all hugs for being so wonderful.

Only if they initiate it.

Seriously, I'm impressed by how well they've thought things through.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2012

I'm not too broke, checkbook time.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:59 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Great story, thanks for posting Molesome.
posted by togdon at 10:59 AM on July 19, 2012

I could see some potential problems here...lots of nasty divorces and custody disputes out there where one side could use a squadron of potentially violent bodyguards. Not to mention the whole 'let's take a bunch of vigilante bikers who may have criminal records and encourage scared kids in unstable family situations to regard them as family' thing...what could possibly go wrong?
posted by zipadee at 11:00 AM on July 19, 2012

My mother knows a kid who was taken from her parents, and given to her grandparents, because her father was molesting her. A few months ago, the father and a friend of his cornered the custodial grandfather, beat him to a pulp, and bragged that yeah, the father had molested her, and what was Grandpa going to do about it?

I'm just saying that this was the first thing I thought of when I read about these bikers. That I wish that could have been there to stand in-between that family and those awful people.
posted by Coatlicue at 11:03 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

"I could see some potential problems here..."

Given the professional credentials of many of the members (social workers, professionals, business owners), I want to make the assumption that they are smart enough not to be used in an inappropriate manner. I also want to assume that the relationships forged through this seemingly well thought out concept with lots of limits and controls in place, based on what seems to be these folks sincere desire to do good, is probably not going to harm the children involved.
posted by HuronBob at 11:04 AM on July 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

'let's take a bunch of vigilante bikers who may have criminal records and encourage scared kids in unstable family situations to regard them as family

That's a lot of assumptions about the bikers involved. Participants go through background checks, are trained in dealing with abused kids by licensed mental health professionals, and then basically serve an apprenticeship with their BACA chapter until they are skilled enough to operate in teams for specific kids. The justice and social service systems appear to be integrated into the program as well; bikers don't just show up.
posted by catlet at 11:06 AM on July 19, 2012 [20 favorites]

emjaybee: "I think we should add the link to their organization's web page, which has a bitchin' animated fist."

Most definitely. I'm almost entirely against web pages with animation like that -- but today I realized it's only because the rest of them don't clear the bar of "bitchin' levels" that this one does.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2012

Yeah, I don't think I could do what these bikers are doing as I was tearing up so many times just reading about it. Wonderful people.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:09 AM on July 19, 2012

the article specifically states that anyone who has a background check that comes up for domestic or child abuse or things like that cannot participate.

they are working very hard to keep this on the up and up.

also, they go thru like an 18-month apprenticeship thing.

these aren't just guys (and gals) out on a poker run.
posted by sio42 at 11:10 AM on July 19, 2012

Yeah, I don't think I could do what these bikers are doing as I was tearing up so many times just reading about it. Wonderful people.

Yeah, I couldn't either, because I look like what I am: A CPA. And I'd have to wear sunglasses every time.

Oh, and, I'm not a biker.

But, I do have a checkbook.
posted by Mojojojo at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I could see some potential problems here...

Yea, you can take those assumptions as far as you want, but I know where I stand with regards to bikers and the preconceived notions that surround them.

My dad rode with some biker gangs back in his younger days, never pledged or was patched mind you, that did some things that would have made your hair stand on end. Later in life he was (when he had a bike at all, which wasn't always) just a guy riding. I couldn't have asked for a better father. Was he rough around the edges and had done things that would have earned him a nice criminal record had he been caught in the past? Absolutely.

I also saw/overheard him run off a family friend's daughter's boyfriend who had pressured her to do something sexually that she didn't want to do (I was younger then, the daughter was older thus the boyfriend, no real idea what was happening in that regard) by putting him against his car hood and calmly and quietly saying "I know people that will break both your legs for an eight ball of crack. I do not want to see you again." He didn't come back.

So yea, could cooler heads have handled things differently? Perhaps. But he damn sure protected our friend's kid and solved it in his own... unique... fashion.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

The worst thing I can think of that might happen is an especially stupid abuser pulling a weapon, and killing one of these bikers, though from the article, a lot of them are armed as well. I think the reason it's working is that assholes who have the guts to abuse kids and scared family members don't usually have the same guts to fight against larger, prepared, armed, and multiple opponents.
posted by emjaybee at 11:17 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I could see some potential problems here...

Maybe? But the kids all seem to be referred by courts and court-appointed therapists, not hired willy-nilly by divorcing parents - these are criminal cases, not civil.
posted by rtha at 11:21 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

From the article, it sounds like a well-run org. These guys are doing a really great and necessary thing. I'm in awe.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2012

Metafilter has never made me cry so hard.

My dad died on his Harley and I have always felt it was such a waste. I harbored a fairly large prejudice against anyone "stupid enough to get on a bike" for more than a decade.

Now I know the local chapter has a PO Box at my post office. There is a chance that a member is one of my neighbors that I resent for revving his engine in his driveway. I'm going to donate and try hard to remember that sometimes good people do great things, despite their choice of hobbies.
posted by Vysharra at 11:24 AM on July 19, 2012 [10 favorites]

Wow -- I now believe in superheroes.

Emjaybee, I guess the takeaway is there is a potential price to be paid for standing between these children and the people who would harm them. I suspect these folks have considered that and decided to do it anyway.
posted by Infinity_8 at 11:24 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't mean to lessen what these people are doing -- because it is awesome -- but it also proof that 90% is just showing up. Being there for these kids is what doesn't happen enough, and they do it with their presence. You may not be a biker, but you've probably got some unique characteristic or skill that comes naturally to you that could still benefit somebody.

/gets off soapbox
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:25 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Heck yeah. Just donated to the Houston chapter, and will do so again on payday.
posted by mrbill at 11:31 AM on July 19, 2012

Yeah, if anyone wants to help, there's also a handy donation page.
posted by corb at 11:38 AM on July 19, 2012


It's sort of the opposite of the "1%" bikers.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:49 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Goddammit. My wife is going to get very mad at me for reading this article.

Because as I am a large bearded man, now I have to buy a motorcycle.

And join them.

She's gonna be pissed.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 12:22 PM on July 19, 2012 [39 favorites]

Go for it, Harvey! We're all behind ya!
posted by HuronBob at 12:36 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of the commenters on the linked article:

How come ninjas are cutting onions in my living room?

Darn ninjas. Here too.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Crying at work again. Thanks Metafilter!
posted by tr33hggr at 12:55 PM on July 19, 2012

This. This made my week. These people are phenomenal, and mostly just because they keep their word to kids who really, really need it. The onion-slicing ninjas showed up here, too, and I will be donating.
posted by notashroom at 1:01 PM on July 19, 2012

"The whole backbone of what BACA does is showing up," Rembrandt says. "We show up when we say we are going to show up, and we do what we say we are going to do.

"We said we were going to stay, and we stayed."
How incredibly valuable. This is what is so remarkable: just being there, no questions asked, whenever they're needed.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:13 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Okay, I'll be honest. I clicked through to the article to see photos of big burly bearded men in jeans and biker vests.

But then I started reading, and now I'm sitting here weeping openly at my computer.

I've hung with bikers of various flavors across the years. Most of them queer bikers, but not all of them. And that they're doing this doesn't surprise me at all. They're some of the most wonderful people I've known in a lot of ways, with a fierce sense of loyalty and an endless appetite for fun. Many of the ones I've known acknowledge that the trappings are armor against a world which misunderstands them. They play into the stereotypes so they can be left the fuck alone to live life as they see fit. That may mean the occasional bar brawl, but it also means pulling the bike over to watch the sunset. There's a poetry to the biker mentality that I really appreciate.

They are executing this mission with class and honor, and this was a really excellent read. Thanks so much for posting!
posted by hippybear at 1:30 PM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

I noticed there's no Vermont chapter.

I might just have to do something about that.
posted by brand-gnu at 1:50 PM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is one of the first times where a cause/group of awesome people really made me want to just give them all my money. These people are.. there needs to be more of these people.

I'm a little frustrated to see there isn't a chapter in my state.
posted by royalsong at 2:04 PM on July 19, 2012

Thank you for posting. I just checked to see if there was a Toronto chapter I could volunteer with, but so far Canada's footprint is Saskatoon only. I ride a sport bike though, so I don't know if they'd take me.
posted by 256 at 2:13 PM on July 19, 2012

Freaking onion ninjas! They must be everywhere!

I have sent this to the bikers I know, and when we look at this month's charitable giving budget, I know what's going to be tops on my list.
posted by KathrynT at 2:16 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I ride a sport bike though, so I don't know if they'd take me.

I'm sure there are abused boys and girls who find sport bikes more interesting than Harley styles. If they wouldn't take you based on that, then they're being foolish.
posted by hippybear at 2:16 PM on July 19, 2012


I'm going to mail the Saskatoon chapter a cheque.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:36 PM on July 19, 2012

I noticed there's no Vermont chapter.

I might just have to do something about that.

No Michigan Chapter either. Wonder how one changes that?....
posted by HuronBob at 2:56 PM on July 19, 2012

Right in the feels
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:59 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

From the BACA website:
BACA Creed

I am a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I wont look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past has prepared me, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. Im finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I dont have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by the faith in my works, and lean on the strength of my brothers and sisters. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with power.

My fate is set, my gait is fast, my goal is the ultimate safety of children. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are tried and true, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I wont give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and showed up for all wounded children. I must go until I drop, ride until I give out, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, for He will see my BACA backpatch and know that I am one of His. I am a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse, and this is my creed.

Founder, Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc.
Bikers. Fuck yeah.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:24 PM on July 19, 2012 [18 favorites]

Dammit, BOP, you made the onion ninjas come back.
posted by KathrynT at 3:28 PM on July 19, 2012

You guys, I haven't even read the article yet. This comment thread contains enough onions to make me all teary-eyed at work. I don't think I should even read the article, I might cry audibly at work.
posted by Joh at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2012

That was absolutely fantastic.
posted by Sibrax at 5:02 PM on July 19, 2012

Joh: read the article at work, cry audibly, get asked why you're crying, share link to article, begin chain reaction which ends up with a mass donation being made by people where you work to BACA...

I can't see anything wrong with this scenario.
posted by hippybear at 6:25 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

As a biker I have to say that the descriptions of bikers by RolandOfEld and hippybear totally ring true for me. I was a wanna-be little biker since I sneaked my first sips of beer from my Dad's Vietnam Vet Biker buddies. (Back then FTW meant fuck the world.) I eventually grew up to be a biker myself.

While this story is so fucking incredibly awesome, and yea, my eyes haven't let up even while reading through the comments, I just learned something about myself too.

Sorry if this is totally GYOFB territory, but 10 or 15 years ago when going on rides there were less and less old school bikers, Banditos, Hells Angels, regular old goat farmin' coors swillin' dirt people and more and more doctors, lawyers, dentists and grand-folks on trikes.

While I was never an asshole to anyone, there was always this thought in the back of my mind, "Can't you fuckin' people find your OWN thing to do?"

So anyway, fuck me and my special snowflake biker attitude of exclusiveness. What these guys have done far surpasses any of the really awesome shit I've witnessed and all of the incredible biker stories I've heard over the years. What they have done and what they are doing is true heroism. A level of badassness, that every biker/human should aspire to.

A quick ALSO...Christmas here in San Diego is a time when warring factions/clubs/gangs get together to do charity rides and events. We do Toys for Tots, various veterans stuff, bring toys and supplies to the rougher/impoverished areas of Tijuana. There is even a Biker Christmas parade that goes through Imperial Beach, which is right on the border, in which all the bikers fill their saddle bags with candy and toys and distribute them during a very slow ride. If your bike isn't totally raked and you put your feet down, you WILL be a target for some candy throwing. I'm telling this little tale because it is such an awesome time. Flags are flown, patches are worn, but all of the long standing feuding going back to the '60's and 70's is set aside to create an enjoyable and very loud spectacle that is safe for everyone...especially the kids.

HUGE thanks for posting this!
posted by snsranch at 6:38 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is just awesome.

I love the image of armed bikers camping out at that kid's house for days, getting those bastards to fuck the hell off. Yay for lenient gun laws in Arizona when it comes to that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:08 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just made a donation to my local chapter. Article was all blurry for me, too.
posted by maxwelton at 11:11 PM on July 19, 2012

to karina.bland
Dear Karina:

Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoyed your piece on BACA.

I've only written one other note like this to a journalist, to Jim Sheeler of the Rocky Mountain News, regarding his "Final Salute" piece.

I just said "Dude, you just won a Pulitzer Prize."

He emailed back a few months later and said "Well. You were right."

FWIW I have been in journalism since like 84. The standard newspaper, radio, tv internet path, six books, one movie. Not trying to butter my own ass here, but suffice it to say I know the business.

This is really, really good writing kid, and no offense, that is not something I expected in The Republic.

It is so descriptive you can hear the tailpipes, and smell them too. You work the dialogue in so deftly, there comes a point where you just stop reading it, and begin hearing it.

You hit one right out the park with this piece, and you should keep a printed copy of it around just to look at if you are feeling blocked. It will get the juices flowing again. You found your rhythm here, and this formula willl work well for you again.

I'm not sure if it is illegal, or just impolite, to submit your own work for a Pulitzer. I believe that is the realm of publishers. But this needs to get sent in. So start kissing the appropriate asses. I'm batting 1000 in my predictions on this.

Thanks for a great read, and restoring my faith in the profession. I swear if you are some 23 year-old just out of J school who did this in two hours ganked up on Red Bull with an accompanying web package, I'm just gonna go stand in front of a bus.

Very nice work kid.

Thanks. Really

posted by timsteil at 6:42 AM on July 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

I just donated to the Hudson Valley Chapter.
posted by larthegreat at 8:15 AM on July 20, 2012

Very sad to see that New Mexico and far west Texas (El Paso area) don't have chapters serving their areas.

C'mon... between Albuquerque/Santa Fe and Las Cruces/El Paso, there could easily be two chapters formed. Plenty of great bikers in those areas!
posted by hippybear at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2012

I shared this with my dad, who is a lifelong biker, and proud of it. He said that while he's not big and mean-looking like the guys in the story (no, he's not big, but I'd argue he can be mean-looking when he wants), he's gotten his share of shit about being a biker, and these stories help him fight that stereotype.

As do the charity rides, the toy collecting, the Thanksgiving food deliveries, etc, etc. But people don't see those things, because most bikers don't toot their own horns, so to speak. They just do what they see needs to be done. Like the BACA folks.

Another reason to not judge books by their covers.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:35 AM on July 20, 2012

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