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08th Nov 2021

Missing 16-year-old rescued after using TikTok hand signals

Charlie Herbert

The signs she used have reportedly been demonstrated in a series of videos on TikTok.

A man has been arrested for the abduction of a missing girl after she used hand signals she learned on TikTok to alert people that she needed help.

According to police in Kentucky, the 16-year-old girl, who has not been named, was in a truck when she used hand signals to tell someone in the car behind that she was in trouble.

The driver recognised the ‘Signal for Help’ hand signals and called 911.

The Laurel County Sheriff’s Department say that the girl had been making signs that “represent violence at home/ I need help/ domestic violence.”

The signs have been demonstrated in a number of viral TikTok videos explaining how to tell or show that someone needs help without alerting their abductor or abuser.

The driver of the truck that the teenager was in has been charged with unlawful imprisonment, as well as an additional count of possession of matter depicting a sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under age 18.

Officials say that the teenager had been reported missing by her parents in Asheville, North Carolina. last week.

Whilst the police did not confirm which exact signal the girl used, they did say that the person who called 911 recognised the sign she was making from TikTok videos.

One of the most popular TikToks demonstrating how to signal for help is from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and shows a woman put her palm up to the camera before curling her fingers over her thumb.

@cdnwomenfdn#covid19 is making it difficult for people at risk of violence to safely reach out. Learn more: #fyp#signalforhelp

♬ original sound – Canadian Women’s Foundation

The foundation says the signal does not mean people must call the police, but it an indication to “reach out to me safely”.

People in distress have been encouraged to use the hand signal when they cannot speak openly about a dangerous situation they may be in.

The foundation adds: “The Signal for Help is a tool that may help some people, some of the time. Some people do not have the ability to make video calls.

“Please find other resources, services, and programs below that may be helpful in an unsafe situation at home.”

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