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This kidnapped teen used a TikTok hand signal to find help

How a North Carolina teen was rescued by a TikTok hand signal

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The TikTok app logo.

The TikTok app logo appears in Tokyo. A kidnapped North Carolina teen was rescued by Kentucky police after she used a hand signal that has been viral on TikTok for months.

Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press

A kidnapped North Carolina teen was rescued by Kentucky police after she used a hand signal that has been viral on TikTok for months.

Per CNN, the teenager was reported missing by her parents on Tuesday, Nov. 2. On Thursday, Nov. 4, a motorist called 911 because they saw the teen expressing distress in a vehicle on the highway.

  • “The complainant was behind the vehicle and noticed a female passenger in the vehicle making hand gestures that are known on the social media platform ‘Tik Tok’ to represent violence at home — I need help — domestic violence,” the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Police pulled over the vehicle and found the teenage girl. They arrested the driver, James Herbert Brick.

What is the TikTok hand gesture?

The gesture is a one-handed sign that you can make when you’re in distress. The signal begins with holding up your hand with your palm out, tuck your thumb into your hand and closing your fingers to trap the thumb.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation has long promoted the hand gesture to those potentially facing abuse.

The social media app TikTok helped spread awareness to the signal in recent years. For example, Business Insider found a TikTok video that explains the gesture with more than 3.5 million views.

What’s next?

Per Mashable, Brick will face multiple charges. He was charged with possession of matter showing sex performances by a minor. Police also found a photo of a juvenile female in a sexual manner on his phone.

  • Kentucky police now plan to spread awareness about the hand gesture to encourage more people in domestic violence situations to fight for a way out, according to Mashable.