A North Carolina teenager was reported missing by her parents last week and was found in Kentucky two days later after using a viral TikTok hand gesture to signal she was in danger and needed help.
The 16-year-old from Asheville, North Carolina, signaled for help by using a hand gesture widely known on TikTok to help domestic abuse victims. A driver spotted the teen on the highway and called the police to report “a female passenger in the vehicle making hand gestures that are known on the social media platform TikTok to represent violence at home – I need help – domestic violence.”
Last year, the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Women’s Funding Network (WFN) taught the “Signal for Help” gesture which is a one-handed signal. To make the signal, hold your hand up with your palm facing out, showing all five fingers, next tuck your thumb into the palm of your hand as if showing the number four, and then fold your fingers over to reap your thumb.
Law enforcement agents who helped save the young girl admitted they didn’t know about the hand sign but called it a “wonderful” tool for those in distress that could save lives if it gains widespread currency.
“I really believe that this girl’s life was saved,” the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Deputy Gilbert Acciardo, told WHAS.
The Laurel County Sheriff’s Office reported the 61-year-old driver James Herbert Brick took the teen to Ohio to meet with relatives but left once his relatives discovered the teen was a minor and reported missing by her parents.
Brick was arrested Thursday and charged with unlawful imprisonment and possession of a matter of sex performance by a minor (over 12 but under 18).