Telling Someone Elses Secret Safely
Keeping a secret can be the best help you can offer a friend. And there are times when the secret can be too big to keep.
If you think your friend is in danger – it is ok to get help.
BEFORE YOU TELL ANYONE THEIR SECRET – talk to your friend. Tell them you are thinking of sharing this secret. This gives your friend control over who to tell next.
What is danger??
Have you ever had that feeling like - "oh no... I promised to keep this a secret, but I really think she needs to tell someone who can help"? or "I'm worried about my friend but she said not to say anything" ??
Keeping a secret safe is a great responsibility and something that can really show that your friend can trust you. Sometimes though, there are secrets that are just too big to keep to yourself.
Consider telling an adult if:
- You suspect your friend is in danger (like she could physically get hurt if you don't act)
- You suspect someone else might get hurt by what your friend told you
- You suspect your friend may put herself in a dangerous situation (or self-harm or attempt suicide) if you don't act upon what she told you
In these three situations it is ok to break a promise. While it is never easy to break someone's confidence, the most important thing is that you, she and others are safe.
If you think you may need to tell someone consider telling an adult you trust. A parent, an older sibling, a teacher. Someone you think will respect that this is a confidential matter and who you think could have some ability to help. This is not the time to tell everyone you know in the hope that someone could help. Be selective, so that you can show your friend you are trying to be considerate of her desire to keep this news under wraps.
Once you have thought of this person, approach your friend and say " I think this is too big to deal with ourselves - we should tell someone. I thought maybe (insert name) could help, what do you think?"
Giving her the choice of who to tell before you tell then allows her to feel more in control of her news spreading. It is her news to tell after all.
What if she still says no?
If she still begs you to keep it a secret, this is when you will have to be firm and clear. Calmly tell her that you are going to tell someone and you are doing so to keep her safe. She may try and persuade you otherwise and say lots of different things to make you feel guilty, or sad, or mad.
If you have her best interests at heart, tell her who you will tell and when you're going to tell them. She then has the opportunity to come with you.
Safety is the most important thing.
She will be mad - she will also calm down. Remember this is a time of high stress for her.
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