TikTok signal saves missing North Carolina teen

Photo courtesy of TikTok, a social media platform, which aided in the rescue of a 16-year-old girl from North Carolina

Photo courtesy of TikTok, a social media platform, which aided in the rescue of a 16-year-old girl from North Carolina

TikTok, a popular social media app, has its downsides such as sparking unnecessary arguments, hate, and controversies. However, the app proved to be apparently beneficial when it saved a missing 16-year-old North Carolinian girl who willingly joined 61-year-old James Herbert Brick on his trip to Ohio, but quickly realized she was in grave danger.

   The undisclosed girl from Asheville, like many other children who are preyed upon, fell victim to the practice known as grooming. “Grooming is manipulative behaviors that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught,” according to Rainn. Grooming is the reason why Brick was able to coerce the young girl to accompany him on his road trip to Ohio where he was going to visit relatives. Upon his arrival, the relatives realized the “ mature woman” was actually a young girl. Brick then evaded his family’s disapproval by departing with the Carolinian girl in his silver Toyota. 

   The severity of the situation became all too real as the two entered Kentucky and the girl realized the danger she was in. Recalling a hand signal she had watched a thirty-second clip about on TikTok, the girl tucked her thumb into her palm and held her fist up against the window hoping a passerby would recognize the motion. 

   The Canadian Women’s Foundation is responsible for the creation of this signal for help ”It was created as a discreet way to signal that a person needs help,” The News and Observer explained. Apps such as TikTok helped spread awareness of the signal for those in a dangerous situation or those unknowingly viewing someone whose safety is being compromised. The COVID-19 pandemic left many isolated at home. “Home isolation can increase the risk of violence. If this is the case for you, use this signal on a video call to ask for help,” The Canadian Women’s Foundation tweeted. 

   Thankfully, for the young girl displaced from her home in Asheville, a car passing by on the highway recognized the help-seeking hand signal and called the authorities. The now on high alert civilian followed the car with the young girl and updated authorities on the vehicle’s location. “Investigators were waiting at an exit to look for the Toyota when the driver who called 911 told dispatchers that the car was taking the same exit, the sheriff’s office said,” The News and Observer reported.

   The Ashville girl’s rescue involved a good amount of luck. However, if more people become aware of the hand signal warranting help out of a dangerous situation, more women have the chance to make it out of abusive relationships.