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Reading the question Why isn't Buffy a star athlete?, a further question came to mind....

Why does Buffy have to keep everything she is doing a secret?

Surely if the world knew about Vampires.... There could be a global effort to completely the wipe them out. Good things follow.

Sure, in later series the government "Initiative" appears which shows that things aren't quite so secret as she had thought and the US government being the US government they look to control the supernatural with great results*.

Nonetheless, is it ever explained in the early series why everything has to be kept a secret? Is it purely out of fear that nobody would believe and she would be locked up in a psych ward? Or is there a more believable reason?

*sarcasm

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    “Surely if the world knew about Vampires.... There could be a global effort to completely the wipe them out... All purely out of fear nobody would believe and she would be locked up in a psych ward?” — People, on the whole, don’t want to consciously know about vampires, so she would likely be locked up in a psych ward, and there wouldn’t be a global effort to wipe them out. As far as that last part goes, it’s a bit like climate change. – Paul D. Waite Apr 11 '17 at 10:06
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    Well, she was locked up in a psych ward for a while (or still is, if you want to believe that). see scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/49663 I can see why she would want to avoid that. – sumelic Apr 11 '17 at 12:45
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    Just as there is the Initiative, trying to control the supernatural, there's also evil organizations with lots of power, like Wolfram & Hart (from Angel, same universe.) Point is, the supernatural forces of the world are not entirely helpless in the face of such a revelation. In fact, we've already seen one person in Buffy who wanted to become a vampire when he found out they were real. Surely, there would be others if their existence became public knowledge. Revealing the monsters wouldn't necessarily lead to their destruction. – Steve-O Apr 11 '17 at 13:45
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I'm thinking it is the same reasoning that makes most comic book heroes keep the secret: protecting family and friends from becoming targets.

On top of that, saying "I am killing the undead at night" will get her either committed (the vampires turn to dust so very little evidence) or arrested for planning to kill people "who are vampires".

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This answer contains plot points from the season 8 comic continuation of Buffy. If you want to avoid any spoilers, stop reading now.

Slayers are actually well-known in the comics. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predators and Prey (Season 8, volume 5), Harmony Kendall outs vampires when someone records her feeding off a person. The media loves her and television networks quickly turn her into a reality t.v. star.

A slayer who has recently come into her powers sees Harmony on t.v. and naturally wants to stake her. This attempt does not go well for the slayer, but does wonders for the show's ratings. Harmony manages to spin the event and people like Anderson Cooper begin to wonder what kind of people slayers are:

Slayers. What is this shadowy organization? We've done some digging. They say they're our protectors, as fighters in some grand battle against "evil." But who decides what is evil? And, some are asking who protects us from them? Keeping us honest tonight, our guest, television personality Harmony Kendall.

Harmony's show also does some research on slayers:

We're doing some investigating, but it seems like there's a whole slayer army. Very organized, very violent. Best villains since the Nazis! Better!

In short, the slayer organization does not look great on paper. With the right spin, people are willing to believe anything about them. Even if this information comes from an evil, inept, t.v. star.

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    To be fair, by this point Buffy (and by extension, all Slayers) has been blamed for the destruction of Sunnydale, has pulled off at least one major bank robbery, etc. She's militarized the Slayers and made some powerful enemies (in and out of the government) while doing so. – Jeff Apr 11 '17 at 14:30

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