Sometimes the weight of the legal system is not enough.  Even when it is on your side.

Sometimes you need a larger-than-life hero (or shero).

That’s where Bikers Against Child Abuse come it.

Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) are bikers, no doubt about it.  They may not be outlaws, but they sure leverage that image to great effect.  They protect children who have been abused.  Literally.

Members of BACA “adopt” children who are afraid of their environment due to physical or sexual abuse.  Perhaps the abuser is still hanging around, sometimes the abuser is in jail, or maybe the abuser now lives far away.  The abuser need not be physically present to make their presence felt via threats, nightmares, and proxies.  Members of BACA are there for the kids, physically.  They show up when their adopted child is having nightmares, is afraid to walk to school, or is being stalked/harassed by the abuser or his family. They accompany the child to court to give the child courage and backup when testifying against the abuser.

They are there so the kids don’t feel so alone or powerless.

They show up.

This article about the Arizona BACA chapter give a lot of detail and story about how they operate.  Locally, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center partners with BACA.

The AZ Central article  depicts a variety of ways BACA members help.  Some can offer advocacy to navigate the child welfare system or file for a protection order.  They spend time with their children.  They will even provide a security line in case the abuser’s family members decide to harass the child.

They want the child to be empowered, to live healthy and fun lives.  Without fear.  Because they have a family who has their back.

A recent article in the online magazine Modern Mom has this catchy headline:  You Should Let Your Child Tattle — Here’s Why!  Yes, another one of those headlines looking to grab your attention by asserting something obviously counter-intuitive (or just plain dumb), and then informing you of what you already (or should have already) know(n):  that you as parent have to help your child learn the difference between telling (to keep themselves or others safe) and tattling (trying to get someone else in trouble).

Now this is a really important life lesson (one which too many adults still don’t have down).  Adults who are looking to sexually assault or abuse children depend on kids not understanding the distinction.  They will often tell their victims not to say anything or they’ll be tattle-tales (and that’s bad).  Or if the child “tattles” they won’t be believed (because they’re only a kid and kids love to tattle, right?).

At it’s February fundraising breakfast, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center’s Executive Director Mary Ellen Stone said that assault against children has decreased 38% in the last 13 years.  She attributed this to increased awareness of the issue, decreased tolerance for child sexual abuse, and increased support for the victims.  Parents are now paying greater attention to adult behavior towards their children, as well as more closely listening to what kids say about adult behavior. Still, about 29% of sexual assault happens to children under the age of 12.

All kids need guidance in managing their emotions, in figuring out if they’re looking for help or looking to get someone in trouble.  They need skills in solving their own problems, and also knowing when to seek outside help.   Violence needs silence — parents need to be willing and themselves have the skills to coach their kids through the often-confusing landscape of telling.