Missing Teen Uses TikTok Hand Signal to Elicit Help From Stranger

A missing North Carolina teen was able to help herself to safety thanks to a trick she learned on TikTok. Now, it’s a trick that every parent needs to make sure they know and that their own children know as well.

Authorities are opening up about how they found a 16-year-old girl. As NBC News reports, the missing teen was able to catch another driver’s attention when she started making very specific hand signals. 

RELATED: Doctors Warn Women Not To Remove Their IUD After TikTok Mom Goes Viral For Doing Just That

The teen learned the hand signals on TikTok, Laurel County Sheriff’s Office explained in a tweet.

While inside a silver Toyota car, a driver noticed she was using a hand signal from TikTok that is meant to “represent violence at home—I need help—domestic violence.” After noticing the hand gesture and realizing the teen looked to be in distress, the driver called 911.

TikTok Hand gesture help
Today Show

As a result, 61-year-old James Herbert Brick was arrested on Thursday, November 4. He was driving near a Kentucky interstate with the teenager still in the car.

The teen had been reported missing by her parents in Asheville, North Carolina two days earlier on November 2. By the time she was found safe, the teen revealed Brick had taken her through four different states, including Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Investigators discovered that Brick was allegedly portraying “a juvenile female in a sexual manner” with a phone they found in his possession, NBC News reported. 

While police have not commented on the exact hand gesture the teen used to elicit help, however, in a TikTok published by NowThis in April, by putting your hand up, palm out, with your thumb tucked in and then folding your four fingers down over your thumb, you can alert someone that you’re in danger without ever saying a word. WATCH:


If you see someone make this secret hand signal it means they need help. Feat. @jackienpadilla #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner

♬ original sound – nowthis

It remains unclear how Brick came in contact with the 16-year-old. However, he is now facing charges for unlawful imprisonment and possession of material showing a sex performance by a minor over the age of 12 but under the age of 18. 

He is currently being held on a $10,000 cash bond at the Laurel County Correctional Center. So the next time you’re in danger or if you have a feeling someone you know might be in danger, keep a lookout for this signal, it could save a life.

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