The Child Abuse Prevention Center and Bikers Against Child Abuse Put Safety First

Rancho Cordova, CA (MPG)  |  Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar
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Arwa Al-Rakabi – Presley Vasquez – Yesenia Mendoza present Safe Sleep Baby tips.

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Tim Libey of BACA – “These children have the strength in them,” said Libey. “We help them find it.”

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Children’s safety was the focus at this month’s Folsom Cordova Community Partnership’s Connections Café with presentations by Tim Libey of Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) and Arwa Al-Rakabi, AmeriCorps Health Educator from The Child Abuse Prevention Center (The Cap Center).

Libey commanded the floor with his smile and stories. Retired from the Air Force, Libey works, he says, to pay the bills so he can do what he loves, what he is passionate about – being involved with B.A.C.A. and empowering children who have been abused.

Child abuse may be physical, sexual, or emotional. It is also neglect. According to statistics listed on The Child Abuse Prevention Center’s website, “half a million children are reported abused in California each year.”

B.A.C.A. “exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children.” The group makes itself available to children in several ways and works “in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children.”

The 5000 members of the international organization are volunteers and include men and women from all professions, including CEOs and moms. They are motorcycle enthusiasts who care deeply about children. Founded 25 years ago in Provo, Utah by a licensed child therapist, the organization has chapters throughout the United States, in Australia, Sweden, Italy, Iceland, Canada, Greece, and other countries.

Libey shared the founder’s story of bringing friends from his local motorcycle club to meet with a child after obtaining permission from the guardian and the child. They simply hung out with the child, gave rides on the bikes, and let the child know they were there. Prior to the meeting, the child feared going out. After the meeting, the child was able to venture into the world and hang out with friends.

The organization was born when the founder saw that abused children could be empowered by knowing they had people there for them. There is never a cost to the family, and each child receives a backpack with some tangible items to connect to the group. These items include a teddy bear, special nightlight, vest, and fleece blanket and are presented by the group.

Before a local chapter can respond, Libey explained that the abuse must have been reported to a mandated reporter.

Mandated reporters, established under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) passed in 1980, are required to report suspected abuse or neglect and normally have regular contact with children. These include child care workers, teachers, firefighters, clergy, public health employees, and a long list of others mandated in California. The list also includes psychological assistants; unlicensed marriage, family, and child therapist interns; and commercial film and photo processors.

If the legal guardian of the child has reported the abuse to a mandated reporter, B.A.C.A. will arrange, with the permission of both guardian and child, to meet the child. If no report was made, the guardian is advised to file one.

Children between three and eighteen are eligible, but they are part of B.A.C.A. for life. Libey shared that a young woman contacted them after she had finished college and met the man she would marry. She did not have anyone to walk her down the aisle. B.A.C.A. responded. They walked her down the aisle and filled her side of the church. She was part of their family.

B.A.C.A. will also, if necessary, escort the child to school or court and will, with the judge’s permission, sit in the court gallery in an effort to empower the child who must face the abuser.

Abuse, said Libey, steals two things from a child – power and choice. Both are given to the child by B.A.C.A., which is on call for the child around the clock, including Christmas mornings.

“These children have the strength in them,” said Libey. “We help them find it.”

He shared an informational video and passed out a copy of a study that had evaluated B.A.C.A.’s services. He also handed out a brochure and explained the symbols. White represents children’s innocence, and the fist represents B.A.C.A.’s commitment to stop child abuse.

Al-Rakabi’s organization also works to protect children. She presented information about a pilot program promoting dental hygiene which includes dental products packets and assistance to Medical recipients to access their Denti-Cal benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendations for hygiene for infants, children, and pregnant women and suggests visiting a dentist by the child’s first birthday.

She also discussed The Cap Center’s Safe Sleep Baby program. From birth to one year, babies should sleep alone, in a crib, and on their backs. Toys and other items should be removed, smoking should never take place around the baby, and the baby should not be overdressed.

Home visits, workshops, and partnering with other agencies like Birth & Beyond are some of the myriad ways they reach families. According to the organization’s website, a baby dies while sleeping every other week in Sacramento County. Half of those babies are African American.

“We try to fight infant sleep related disorders,” said Al-Rakabi.

For additional information, visit www.TheFCCP.org. For additional information about Child Abuse Prevention Council, visit http://www.thecapcenter.org/who/agencies/child-abuse-prevention-council-of-sacramento. For additional information about Bikers Against Child Abuse, visit https://bacaworld.org/ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuF3WqJUMKc.