ROCKWALL TX – Bikers Against Child Abuse International (BACA) exists to create a safer environment for abused children and to empower them to not feel afraid of the world in which they live, the president of their local chapter told a Rockwall area family violence prevention meeting last night hosted by the Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation.
“Our single focus is the empowerment of children,” said Mike “Gonzo” Matijevich. “We do it one child at a time. Our motto is ‘I am my brother’s keeper.’”
He explained that all BACA members, including their 27 local chapter members, have had their backgrounds thoroughly checked and stand ready to help children by involving them with their established, united organization.
They often escort and sit with children in court cases after reports have been made that they have been neglected or abused. He said sometimes BACA members are the only ones there to support the children because the majority of child abuse is committed by family members and the children’s outcries are often either disbelieved or ignored. They let the children decide with whom they will or will not speak.
They have 8-10 “adoptions” of children every weekend into their organization when they provide each child with BACA vests, stuffed animals and give them motorcycle rides.
“Once a BACA child, always a BACA child,” he said. “Kids can always call us for help.”
“We get calls from law enforcement, criminal justice and child protection officials all the time, too.”
He praised Children’s Advocacy Centers for their efforts and said he hopes Rockwall area residents will soon open a CAC because they do such a great job protecting children from abuse.
Non-profit CACs provide a facility where children can go to tell their stories just one time to law enforcement and criminal justice officials. Their story is taped and can then be reviewed as often as necessary by officials.
“So many children and not enough organizations to help them,” he added.
Last year there were over 15,000 confirmed child abuse victims in Texas, according to CPS. In Rockwall there were 95.
But, Gonzo explained, most agencies believe that only about one in five (20 percent) child abuse victims are identified, meaning it’s likely that 500 children were abused in Rockwall County last year and over 75,000 across Texas.