#SignalForHelp: Viral TikTok Helps Save Lives

Hand Signal Can Be Used In Dangerous Situations

Fallyn Kowalski, Reporter, Columnist

     When trapped in a dangerous situation such as domestic violence, human trafficking or kidnapping, there is hand sign that can be used a discreet signal to get help. 

     With people stuck in lockdown during the beginning of the pandemic, the sign was created by the Canadian Women’s Foundation in their #SignalForHelp campaign as a means to alert others that a person was not in a position to help themselves. At first, people were using the signal during video calls, but it has since adapted to other times where help was needed – including leading to the rescue of an abducted teen. 

     “The first time I ever saw it was on TikTok awhile ago,” freshman Aly-Marie Montes said. “Some girl was doing it, and people in the comments were talking about whether or not she needed help.” 

     The signal has been shared on social media, more specifically TikTok, and a missing 16-year-old North Carolina girl was rescued from her captor in Kentucky after flashing the sign out the window to a passing car. A driver recognized the signal from TikTok and called 911. The gesture helped return the girl to her family and led to the arrest of her alleged kidnapper. 

     Freshman Alexandra Mackey believes the hand signal is helpful. 

     “It would help a lot if someone is being abused, and the abuser is near them because they can do the signal,” said Mackey. 

     To signal for help, place palm outward, fold thumb into palm and fold fingers over thumb. The signal can be used by all people. 

     School resource deputy Zack Bayless said the hand signal could really help teens. 

     “For a nonverbal signal like that, it would be great because a lot of people are afraid to speak out,” Bayless said. “If the person who’s abusing you is standing right next to you, you don’t want to be like, ‘Hey, they’re abusing me,’ so a quick hand signal is great.” 

     Bayless has experience in helping domestic violence victims, including a woman without housing. 

     “It was a little bit different of a situation, but we got them into a women’s shelter, and she was able to find some resources there and get out of the situation,” Bayless said. 

     While the hand signal is meant to alert that someone is in danger, it doesn’t mean to immediately call police. The Canadian Women’s Foundation suggested reaching out to the individual if that’s an option and asking them what type of help they want or need, unless they are in immediate danger. Sometimes, the person might just want someone to know their situation and need someone to talk to. 

     Bayless said the best way to prevent domestic violence is awareness. 

     “So the abusers and the attackers know that we are watching out for them, and there should be severe consequences,” Bayless said. “And also to help the victims and survivors know that there are resources and people there to help them.” 

     The hand signal can help someone without leaving a trace. It’s not a text message or phone call that an abuser might find and can get people out of violent and dangerous situations. 

Original #SignalForHelp Video