Guardians of the Children
Biker heroes serve to shield and protect the powerless victims of child abuse.
They’re not just another biker club rumbling down the open road. They are not a Motorcycle club at all. Rough looking on the outside, they’re soft on the inside when it comes to kids, especially victims of child abuse. Meet Guardians of the Children (GOC), a non-profit biker organization formed in 2006 by Founders “LT” Trevino and “Bamm-Bamm” Cano whose members protect abused and neglected children. GOC’s members cover a broad range of professions united in a cause through their love of motorcycles. As bikers, they leverage their alliances to serve victims and their families.
More Than Bikers
“We’re an organization within the biker community,” says the Vice President of San Antonio Chapter. “It’s a matter of dedication to the lifestyle — we’re a group of volunteers that uses the image of the biker to help us in our mission, but we’re not living out the full lifestyle that the motorcycle clubs do.”
GOC benefits communities by informing the public of how widespread the child abuse crisis actually is and what to do about it. The public is taught how to prevent, recognize, and act in response to suspected child abuse. Partnering with child advocacy agencies, victim assistance groups, child protective services, criminal court system, and other organizations, GOC assists as an outreach into communities to create awareness and raise funds. Victims and families are referred to GOC if those organizations determine they would benefit from GOC’s protective services and support.
Serving to Save
GOC members live by their motto “Valor, Truth and Integrity is the Guardian way” and serve a common goal to stand as guardian angels for the victims they help. The organization’s mission statement is “to recognize and react to child abuse and educate the public to do the same; to serve as advocates to provide strength and stability to families in crisis; and be an answer to the prayer of an abused child or teen for courage, support, and protection.”
Several times a year, GOC hosts gatherings for abused children and their families. There, they can meet and be supportive of each other and be introduced to GOC members. At the family’s request, GOC will protect them by providing standing watch groups outside the victim’s home, escorts to school and therapy, and assistance for help 24/7.
A victimized child becomes “adopted” into the GOC family and receives support and assistance before, during, and after court trials. Guardians are assigned as primary contacts but the entire GOC family becomes a support system for the child.
GOC rallies, rides, and toy drives all raise money to benefit the children. Community and advocacy events are used as venues to educate the public and prompt them to action to help ensure the safety and protection of these young victims.
Breaking the Cycle of Abuse
Many GOC members have experienced child abuse themselves or have family members or friends that were or are survivors. Because it hits close to home, GOC has zero tolerance for child abuse and are dedicated to shielding these children from further harm. GOC also challenges weak child sexual abuse laws, advocating tougher penalties for perpetrators.
Co-founded in 2006 by “Bamm-Bamm” Cano and Lester “LT” Trevino in San Antonio, Texas, GOC has numerous chapters in 18 states and Canada. Each prospective member enters a one-year probationary period that includes undergoing state and federal background checks, dedicating time to the cause, and meeting certain criteria before being considered eligible to join.
Induction or “patching” ceremonies allows new members to wear the official Guardians of the Children patches of the logo, chapter, and slogan emblazoned with the words “Don’t let your silence drown out their cries.” New members can proudly wear the patches on their leather vests and jackets and are required to abide by GOC rules and credo authored by the GOC International Board Of Directors.
Turning the Tables
Chapters attend trials several times a year, usually in the community they serve but sometimes in distant cities. Facing an abuser in a courtroom filled with strangers and publicly reliving the abuse can be traumatizing for a child victim. Enduring abuser intimidation to prevent testimony is often too overbearing for the child especially if the abuser is a family member. Without testimony the case is severely weakened.
That’s where GOC steps in. GOC arrives at the court in full biker regalia escorting the child into the courtroom and quietly sitting through the proceedings. The child is strengthened by their powerful presence knowing GOC has their back, calming their fears, and enabling them to complete their testimony. When GOC is in the courtroom, the conviction rate usually increases because the child is emboldened.
The abuser also sees GOC members projecting their tough biker image in the courtroom —leathers ablaze with GOC patches. Their imposing presence subliminally strongarms the perpetrator to think twice before attempting any bullying tactics. As a rule, GOC members do not engage in violent acts toward the victim’s abuser, their bad-boy appearance is intimidating enough.
“These children are afraid,” says Cano, in an interview with Chron. “For the most part, the perpetrators are bullies and they use threats to prevent the children from testifying. But it’s empowering for them to see us there and know that they’ve got all these uglies on their side, that guy is not going to hurt you, we’ll protect you.”
GOC is a source of strength for children in the courtroom that goes largely unnoticed by the general public, but they are not in it for fame. Instead, their focus is purely to help and heal the broken lives of damaged children. GOC is raising the bar as guardians for the most vulnerable in our communities and making a difference by changing lives one child at a time. Learn more at guardiansofthechildren.com