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To keep or to share? How to know when to tell an adult a secret

The pinky promise, the whispers and the ‘cross my heart and hope to die’ are just some ways to share a secret with your BFF. Although secrets are supposed to be just between the two of you, there are times when a secret should be told to an adult. Who your BFF has a crush on or what she’s wearing to the party next week is no biggie, but if your BFF is telling you something serious and you don’t know how to deal with it, ask a parent, guidance counselor, or trusted adult to help! We’re here to give you the 4-1-1 on how to know when you should share a secret.

Hurting Themselves
If someone you know is hurting themselves in any way you need to tell an adult ASAP. Whether they’re not eating anymore or they’re cutting themselves, an adult must intervene as soon as possible. Telling your parents or the school guidance counselor would be the best idea so they can work with your friends’ parents, too. Even if your friend hasn’t specifically told you what she’s doing, but you can see warning signs, tell someone!

Family Trouble
When your BFF tells you that she doesn’t like being at home anymore because her parents are fighting or she’s getting hurt, you may feel like you shouldn’t get involved. But it’s your job as a best friend to get the people who can help the situation involved. Tell a guidance counselor or principle about the situation so they can talk to your friend and really find out what’s going on. The longer you keep something like this a secret, the more danger your friend could be in.

Weird Thoughts
It’s okay for friends to tell you all about the weird things they’ve been thinking about lately. But if those weird thoughts turn into thoughts of harming themselves, hurting others or running away – it’s time to call in for back-up. Be sure to ask your friend questions and find out the severity of the thoughts and how long she’s been thinking them. If you’re still unsure, when in doubt talk to an adult. They’ll give you guidance and figure out how to help your friend.

Unusual Behavior
You spend tons of time with your BFF so it’s easy to spot when she's acting different. Whether she gets angry easier, she's lost interest in her hobbies or she's acting out more than usual, try to figure out what’s causing the change of behavior. If she spills that she feels weird, it’s time to talk to her 'rents, or encourage her to do so. Maybe she's just been stressing over school, but you never know if there may be a bigger picture issue like depression or anxiety. The earlier she can talk to someone, the better.

It is important to understand that by telling an adult a secret, your friend may get upset with you. Her safety and well-being are more important than whether or not she likes you at the moment. She’ll eventually figure out that you told someone a secret because you care about her and you two will be BFF’s again in no time.

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by Caitlin Moynihan | 3/14/2018
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