Hand Signal for Women in Distress: Teen Girl Saved Because of a Domestic Abuse Hand Gesture Popularized on TikTok by Ann Marie Patitucci
I know I’m not alone when I say that I worry about my teenager’s consumption of social media. Let’s face it: most of our teenagers have (or are begging for) a social media account, and they’ll spend as much time as they can get away with on TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and more, and this is a new world for us parents to navigate. What’s worse is that we don’t necessarily like what we see there. I’m always thrilled to hear when my kids come across an image or video that offers something inspiring, positive or helpful. I can’t think of a better example than this:
A missing 16-year-old North Carolina girl was rescued on Thursday, November 4, 2021, when she used hand gestures to signal that she was in distress, according to the Laurel County, Ky., Sheriff's Department. James Brick was accused of and arrested for taking the teen against her will from North Carolina. While riding in his car, she used a hand gesture – one that represents abuse or violence that has been popularized on TikTok. The signal was launched by the Canadian Women’s Foundation during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown when it was “more difficult for those who [were] at risk of abuse or violence to safely reach out for help.” The signal was designed as “a simple one-handed sign someone can use on a video call," according to their website.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SIGNAL
Isolation can increase the risk of violence at home. Use this discrete gesture during a video call to show you need help:
1. Hold hand up with palm facing other person.
2. Tuck thumb into palm.
3. Fold fingers down over thumb. pic.twitter.com/gsIgSbXOmc
— Halton Police (@HaltonPolice) August 24, 2021
A man driving a vehicle behind Brick's car recognized the hand signal and called 911. Thanks to the driver’s call, deputies pulled Brick over for a traffic stop, where they learned that the teenager had been reported missing by her parents in Asheville, N.C., two days prior. Brick is now facing kidnapping charges and is being held on a $50,000 bond.
In addition to learning about the hand signal, I hope young people learn something else from this story: the power of being an upstander. We’re all bystanders, but to make a difference, we must be upstanders, like the driver who called 911 which led to the rescue of the missing 16 year old.
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