Informed Families Blog

TikTok Hand Signal Saves Teen

Posted by Informed Families on November 19, 2021 at 6:00 AM

We’ve written about the potential dangers kids may encounter on social media, but recently we saw a case where social media helped rescue a 16-year-old girl from her kidnapper.

The girl had “linked up” with a 61-year-old man in Asheville, North Carolina, and was reported missing by her parents. As the pair drove through Kentucky, a passing motorist recognized the hand signal for the distress that the girl was flashing out the window and called 911.

The motorist stayed behind the car for seven miles, continually relaying its location to the police. Eventually, they were able to box in the suspect’s vehicle. He was then arrested and the girl was reunited with her family.

Important signal

The Women’s Funding Network created the silent “Signal for Help” gesture that can be displayed during video calls to alert family, friends, or colleagues that someone needs help. The signal then went viral on TikTok.

It consists of a handheld rigid, with fingers straight, palm toward the camera, and the thumb tucked in, followed by folding the fingers over the thumb to trap it.

Police involved in the case said later that they hadn’t known about the signal, but called it a “wonderful” tool that could save lives if more people know about it.

The sheriff’s deputy said the girl was lucky to have someone recognize the signal because most people don’t yet know about it.

Keep cautioning kids

That’s the good news, and it’s important to let your children know about this distress signal in case they’re ever in trouble.

The bad news is, the girl apparently met her kidnapper on social media and decided to meet up with him, despite all the warnings to young people about not doing that.

So talk frequently with your child about social media safety, and what to watch out for. Here are some websites that can give you useful tips:

Finally, always know what your kids are doing online. Also, look into site monitoring software or blockers for questionable sites.

Topics: social media, tiktok, safety

About Us

We teach people how to say no to drugs and how to make healthy choices. To reduce the demand for drugs, Informed Families has focused its efforts on educating and mobilizing the community, parents and young people in order to change attitudes. In this way we counteract the pressures in society that condone and promote drug and alcohol use and abuse. The organization educates thousands of families annually about how to stay drug and alcohol free through networking and a variety of programs and services .

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