By Allison, age 13, Florida
I wasn't even in 4th grade yet when secrets were being shared and spilled. "Who-liked-who" seemed like a matter of life or death, and don't even mention what went on if somebody was dating somebody! But as we got older and problems got bigger, secrets became much more serious. Telling other people's secrets was the ultimate betrayal ... and for good reason. Secrets were no longer mild or short-term. I was hearing problems about classmates of mine that I didn't know how to deal with. What was I supposed to do?
The BeginningIn many cases, the secrets you hear are not actually from the people themselves, but from other people who claimed to have heard them. "So-and-so who told so-and-so who told so-and-so who told you" has a way of jumbling up what you hear and what is true. Have you ever played the game Telephone? The first player whispers a phrase into the second player's ear, who then whispers it into the next players ear, and so on. By the time the phrase reaches the last person, it sometimes doesn't even come close to the original words! Before you start believing something somebody tells you make sure it isn't just a rumor.
Things You May HearAs people get older stress becomes higher. This is why many teens turn to habits like cutting, eating disorders, and so on to help relieve some of the pressure they feel is being put on them. Most of us will respond with disbelief or shock if we hear that one of our friends is doing one of these things. In many cases, we become torn between the loyalty we have for our friend and the worry we have for their well-being.
What You Need To DoMany questions go through our heads as we debate within ourselves what to do. What happens if they get mad at us for telling? What happens if they get hurt? What happens if they don't want to be our friend anymore? Three words: It doesn't matter. What would you do if your friend ended up being hospitalized for something you could have prevented? Confront your friend and tell her or him what you heard and how you feel. Tell them that you are there for them. If you can see that the problem is getting out of hand, immediately tell a parent, guardian, teacher, guidance counselor, or religious leader. These people are trained to help in situations like this, and can probably help more than you can.
In some cases, secrets aren't supposed to be kept. :)