Nov 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Missing teen rescued after using hand gesture from TikTok

TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone and a PC screen in Ankara, Turkey on May 11, 2021. (Photo by Rasit Aydogan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Photo: Rasit Aydogan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A girl reported missing from North Carolina was rescued in Kentucky after she signaled for help with a hand gesture made popular on TikTok, law enforcement officials said.

Driving the news: The girl was reported missing by her parents last week, according to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office in Kentucky. A driver called the police after seeing a girl using a signal, popularized by TikTok, to indicate she needed help.

  • The hand gesture was created by the Canadian Women's Foundation to help an individual "silently show they need help and want someone to check in with them in a safe way."
  • The signal involves distressed people tucking their thumb into their palm before closing their fingers over it.
  • Following up on the tip, the Laurel County Sheriff's Office pulled over the driver of the car and arrested him Thursday. He was charged with unlawful imprisonment.

What they're saying: "This is probably the best thing I've seen come along in the 48 years I've been a patrol officer," Gilbert Acciardo, public affairs officer for the Laurel County Sheriff's Office, told the New York Times.

  • "It is a relief to hear that somebody was able to use the signal in a very dangerous situation," said Andrea Gunraj, the Canadian Women's Foundation's vice president of public engagement, per the Times.

Editor's note: This was updated to include a description of the hand signal.

Go deeper