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TikTok popularized this hand gesture that represents a sign for help – here’s what it looks like

The gesture has already saved at least one 16-year-old girl from harm.

how to signal for help with hand signals
Image: Canadian Women's Foundation

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, a simple hand gesture was created by the Women’s Funding Network and the Canadian Women’s Foundation to help people alert others that they are in danger. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube helped spread the message, and the signal has already started helping people

Developed specifically in response to rising domestic violence issues as the world went into isolation last year, the simple hand gesture acts as a way for people to warn others in situations where talking our sound isn’t an option.

The gesture includes raising your hand with your palm facing the direction of the person you are trying to alert. Tuck your thumb into your palm, and fold down your other four fingers to trap your thumb in. Thanks to the viral nature of TikTok and other social media platforms, this signal has been distributed widely across the world.

And the gesture has already been used to help save a 16-year-old from an abductor. A North Carolina teen was recently found using the hand signal. The Laurel County Sherriff’s office in Kentucky, where the girl was found, says that it’s thanks to TikTok popularizing the gesture that a passerby was able to recognize that the girl was in distress and call 911.

Gestures like this are super helpful, as they give a universal way to signal for help when you can’t get your point across verbally. And having standard signals like this across the world help eliminate the struggle that language barriers can represent in stressful situations.

Hopefully, this signal continues to spread, and if we know anything about TikTok, then it almost certainly will continue to do so.

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Staff writer at KnowTechie. Alex has two years of experience covering all things technology, from video games to electric cars. He's a gamer at heart, with a passion for first-person shooters and expansive RPGs. Shoot him an email at alex@knowtechie.com

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