Ask Sam letter


To Sam

The confidentiality of Childline


i would like to talk to a counseller about some things that are worrying me but before i do so i would like to know what childline keeps confidential. for instance if i told you that i did something bad at school, would you tell the school that i did it? that is only an example, i wasnt saying that i had done anything.

but i would like to know whether phone calls are recorded and if emails are kept and stored. because i know that social media does that so i was wondering if childline did that. whatever i tell childline will it be kept private?

thankyou for your time


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Childline works differently to most other places where you might talk to an adult about what’s going on. Our confidentiality promise means whatever you say will just be between you and Childline. There are a couple of times where we can’t do this, like if we're worried about your safety.  We always want you to understand this, so you can choose whether you share it with us or not.

Childline is a safe place to talk about anything that’s worrying you – even if this is something that you think's wrong or if you've broken the law. This doesn’t apply to everything though and there are crimes we can’t keep to ourselves. If you're sexually or physically abusing a young person, we might need to tell someone else about that and get both of you help to stop.

One of the most common times where we don’t keep something private is when someone’s life is in danger – that could be yours or someone else's. If you talk to a counsellor and they think you might die if they don’t tell someone, they will want to get you help. This might mean calling an ambulance or the police to make sure you're okay.

It’s important to know that you can talk about feeling suicidal and we can often keep that confidential. Feeling suicidal and acting on those thoughts are different and we understand that. We can usually keep most kinds of abuse confidential as well – unless it involves a very young child who might be hurt more easily.

We wouldn’t keep abuse confidential if the person hurting you is someone who lots of children trust – like a teacher or a social worker. We’d usually try and talk to you about this when you're telling us.

Sometimes young people don’t want to tell us where they are so that we can get them help. We can sometimes work with the police to find where you are calling or chatting from – but this doesn’t always work, so you shouldn’t rely on it if you want us to get you help.

If you decide that you want help from another service like your school, social services, your doctor or your CAMHS worker you can ask Childline to contact them on your behalf. The counsellor will talk to you about what this might be like and whether it’s something we can do to help you or not.

Your phone call isn’t recorded but after the call the counsellor will write brief notes about what you talked about so that other counsellors know what was said and any advice or information they gave you. Emails are stored safely in your account and can only be seen by you and Childline. 1-2-1 chat and emails are kept on your Childline account and counsellors are able to look at those to see what you’ve talked about before – but they don’t go outside of Childline.

To keep your account confidential outside of Childline it’s important to keep your log in details safe so that no one else can access your account.

Our counsellors are always here if you want to talk.

Thanks for your letter. I hope this information has helped

Take care,


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