Ask Sam letter


To Sam

In a situation where you'd be forced to tell someone about a kid's situation, who would you tell?

When I had a counsellor through school, they had to tell someone about my situation because my suicidal thoughts were severe. They told my parents and it ruined my relationship with my family ever since. Who do you talk to when a child is in danger and how do you approach it?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Childline work differently to most other people you might talk to about a problem. Someone like a teacher or a counsellor often has to pass on anything that might be putting you at risk of being hurt. This might be self-harm, abuse or suicidal feelings. Childline can often keep those things confidential - but it does depend on whether or not your life is in danger.

It's important to remember that that every situation is different and when Childline decides what is the safest and best thing to do, it's based on lots of different things, like the age of the person involved, what they are doing and where they are.

Like me, Childline wants to help all young people who need it. We understand how difficult it can be to open up to someone about what's happening to you, so we want to keep things between you and us whenever we can. This is something we will do even if you are being hurt. If you're being abused or in danger then we all want that to stop, and we want to support you to make decisions wherever possible.

There are some times when Childline will tell someone about what is going on for you and those times are generally when someone's life might be in danger. If the people at Childline think that by not taking action someone could get hurt or even die, then they will do all they can to get help to that person. It might be to get an ambulance if it's an emergency, to try and save someone's life. Childline may also talk to the police if they feel that could stop someone from coming to serious harm.

There are other times Childline might tell someone - such as if a person who lots of young people trust was abusing you. This could be someone like a teacher or a social worker - someone who spends time with lots of young people. You can read more about how Childline's confidentiality promise works.

Most of the time Childline will be able to  keep what you say between you and them. The Childline counsellors are trained to talk to people who feel suicidal - and they understand that feeling suicidal and planning to act on those feelings can be very different things. It's best to try be honest even though that can sometimes be hard and they will be honest with you too. If you ever want to know if what you're saying is something Childline can keep confidential, you can ask one of the counsellors here.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for the question.


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