TikTok helps save a 16-year-old girl from the clutches of a 61-year-old man

TikTok helps save a 16-year-old girl from the clutches of a 61-year-old man
If you ask parents, they will probably tell you that short-form video app TikTok is a waste of time. Many Moms and Dads wish that their kids had never opened the app in the first place. But that is surely not the thoughts of the parents of an unnamed 16-year-old girl who was reported missing by her parents in Asheville, North Carolina on Tuesday.

USA Today reports that the girl was rescued after attracting the attention of another driver by using hand gestures that she learned on TikTok. A person driving behind the car that the teen was imprisoned in recognized the hand signals and told the police that the girl appeared to be "in distress." The sheriff's office pointed out that the hand signals are non-verbal shortcuts that "represent violence at home – I need help – domestic violence."

61-year old James Herbert Brick was arrested for "unlawful imprisonment" after holding a 16-year-old-girl prisoner

The teen was in the back seat of a Toyota that was is owned by 61-year-old James Herbert Brick of Cherokee, North Carolina. Brick was arrested for "unlawful imprisonment" after the cops pulled him off the interstate by initiating a traffic stop. Besides finding the missing girl, police said that Brick's phone contained sexual images of a teenager.

The teen told law enforcement officials that she had traveled with Brick through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. While the police didn't reveal exactly which hand signal was used by the teen to catch the attention of the person driving in back of her, many have suggested that hand signals be used by those in distress.

Learn the internationally recognized hand signal for help and it might save your life some day

The Canadian Women's Foundation says that there is an international, universal signal for help in a case of domestic violence or other distress. This signal can be made with one hand: Face your palm forward and with your thumb tucked in, then close your other fingers over your thumb to "trap" it. The hand signal is not asking someone to call the police immediately, but says "reach out to me safely."

While this specific case was not a domestic situation, the pandemic and the associated lockdowns have reportedly led to an increase in domestic violence. The Canadian Women's Foundation says, "The Signal for Help is a tool that may help some people, some of the time. Some people do not have the ability to make video calls. Please find other resources, services, and programs below that may be helpful in an unsafe situation at home."

It is suggested that someone needing to use the hand signal do so discreetly on a web camera when they cannot speak freely about a dangerous situation that they are in, or cannot make a call. As of this past July, TikTok had 253 million installs from the App Store and Google Play Store to date. TikTok is only the fifth non-gaming app to surpass 3 billion global installs from the iOS and Android app storefronts.

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Globally, TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world last year with 850 million downloads. WhatsApp was second with 600 million downloads, a whopping 250 million installs  behind TikTok.

Last year, the Trump administration tried to ban TikTok in the U.S., or have it sold to a U.S. company. It was all part of the former president's attempt to punish certain Chinese companies, including Huawei, for "security reasons." As the calendar moved closer toward the presidential election, Trump just dropped the matter and the Biden administration has not followed-up on it.

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