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To Sam

Do Childline tell people what we talk about?

hey sam i was just wondering, if i talk about self harm will childline tell anyone about it like my parents or school or something because i really want to talk about it but i dont want other people to know because i want to tell my family when im ready

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Childline has a confidentiality promise which tells you the kind of things we can't keep between you and us. This promise is one of the most important things for the way we work and it's really important that it's made clear so that you can make your own decision about whether you want to talk to us or not. Our confidentiality promise is part of every part of Childline - including when you send letters to me, or post on the message boards.

Keeping something confidential means not telling anyone outside of Childline what you have said. We know that there are some things that you might want to talk about but aren't ready to change yet - like being hurt at home or if you are hurting yourself. It's always okay to talk about these things but sometimes the people you tell might have to act on what you've said. Teachers, social workers and police officers are examples of people who couldn't keep some things confidential. Self-harming is something we can keep confidential, as long as it isn't putting your life or long-term health in danger.

Childline's confidentiality promise says that we will keep things between you and us, except for a few circumstances. If you tell us something that makes us feel like your life is in danger then we would want to get you help to stop you dying. This is sometimes confusing for people as they think that feeling suicidal means that their life is in danger, when that's not always true. Feeling suicidal is different to planning to go through with it - so you can talk about feeling suicidal and we can usually keep that confidential.

Other times we would want to tell someone if you told us about abuse by someone who  spends time with  lots of young people who might trust them - like a teacher for example. We want to make sure those young people were kept safe. If someone is very young or unable to decide for themselves what's safe and what isn't, we might not keep that confidential either.

All the times we tell someone are to keep you safe. This almost always means we talk to someone like the police, the ambulance service or a social worker. We wouldn't contact your parents because we couldn't be sure this is the best way to get you help. We care about your safety the most and that's what's important to us.

I hope this has helped. You can always read more about our confidentiality promise, or ask one of our counsellors if you have specific questions.

Take care.


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