Dos and don'ts of handling disclosures

What to do if a girl discloses something concerning to you

What is a disclosure?

A disclosure is when a girl tells you something that has affected her, for example about instances of abuse

Part of what Girlguiding does is offer girls a safe space to be themselves and say what they think. As a Girlguiding volunteer, the girls in your unit will trust you. Because they feel comfortable and safe, they might discuss things that concern or affect them. This could include concerns involving another member of Girlguiding.

Some things that may be shared with you include self-harm and physical, sexual or emotional abuse, and you may notice signs of neglect. A girl also may have a concern about something that has happened online or through social media.

Discussing these things with girls may be difficult to hear and tough to deal with. Following these Dos and Don'ts will help you offer them the best support possible.


  • remain calm, approachable and receptive
  • listen carefully, without interrupting
  • acknowledge you understand how difficult this may be
  • make it clear that you are taking what is said seriously
  • reassure them that they have done the right thing in telling you
  • let them know that you'll do everything you can to help them
  • make a written record of exactly what has been said.


  • promise confidentiality
  • ask leading or probing questions
  • investigate
  • repeatedly question or ask the girl to repeat the disclosure
  • discuss the disclosure with people who do not need to know
  • delay in reporting the disclosure to the Safeguarding team.

Further information

While it is possible to spot signs or behavioural changes that may indicate that harm or abuse taking place, it is important to remember that you should not try to ‘diagnose’ abuse based on a checklist approach.

Remember you can report anything that is making you feel concerned without needing to identify the type of abuse or harm that is taking place. You just need to explain what you have seen or heard that is worrying you.

If you would like further information on what constitutes abuse and harm and the signs and behavioural indicators that indicate abuse or harm may be occurring, please visit the NSPCC website.

Contact the HQ Safeguarding team

If you have a concern about a girl or volunteer and need advice or support then contact the HQ Safeguarding team. Call us on 020 7834 6242 ext. 3037 or email us below.


For out-of-hours emergencies call 07508 032997 (5pm - 10pm Monday - Friday and 9am - 10pm Saturday/Sunday). Please do not text the out of hours number as we are unable to access these messages.

Email us