The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Your teen’s emotional, behavioral, cognitive, or physical problems may be the result of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are severely stressful or traumatic experiences experienced before the age of 18, including abuse, neglect, witnessing family violence and community violence, growing up with substance abuse, mental illness, parental discord (separation, divorce), or crime in the home, experiencing a natural disaster, experiencing the incarceration of a household member, and losing a parent by abandonment or death. This video presents an overview of Adverse Childhood Experiences, introducing the major findings of the ACE Study and its implications for health and well-being.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have the strongest influence on attachment and bonding, stability of relationships, emotional health, adolescent health, mental health, cognitive functioning, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual behavior, obesity, suicide attempts, risk of re-victimization, and performance in the workforce. 

What’s your ACE score? And what does it mean?

More information

2012 Report of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence  This report examines children’s exposure to violence, a national crisis that affects approximately two out of every three children in the United States. Of America’s 76 million children, an estimated 46 million will have their lives touched by violence, crime, abuse, and psychological trauma.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study  One of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess the associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.

Child Maltreatment and Brain Development  The connection between abuse in childhood, health problems in adulthood, and how trauma in childhood alters the physiology of the brain.

Childhood Abuse, Household Dysfunction, and the Risk of Attempted Suicide Throughout the Life Span  Adverse childhood experiences increase two- to five-fold the risk of attempted suicide during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Childhood Trauma Leaves Legacy of Brain Changes  Early psychological trauma can cause lasting changes in the brain that promote aggressive behavior in adulthood.

Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey  Children who are exposed to violence undergo lasting physical, mental, and emotional harm. They suffer from difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, anxiety, and depression, and aggression and conduct problems. They may be more prone to dating violence, delinquency, further victimization, and involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Moreover, being exposed to violence may impair a child’s capacity for partnering and parenting later in life, continuing the cycle of violence into the next generation.

Easy Targets: Violence Against Children Worldwide  In every region of the world, in almost every aspect of their lives, children are subject to unconscionable violence, most often perpetrated by the very individuals charged with their safety and well-being.

Effects of Traumatic Events on Children  An introductory booklet by Bruce D. Perry, MD, Ph.D., about the roots of trauma-related problems: the adaptive responses to threat present during traumatic childhood experiences.

How trauma gets ‘under the skin’  Biological and cognitive processes of child maltreatment

Information about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study From the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

Is Life Expectancy Reduced by a Traumatic Childhood?  Looking at the ACE Study that showed life expectancy is reduced by 20 years among adults who experienced six or more particular types of abuse or household dysfunction as children, while those who suffered fewer types of trauma lost fewer years of life.

Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect  This fact sheet explains the long-term physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences of child abuse and neglect.

Social Emotional Learning and Trauma Response in Schools  Information especially helpful for educators and youth workers.

The Childhood Trauma  Lecture by Alice Miller (1923-2010), world-renowned therapist and child trauma researcher

The Relationship of ACEs to Substance Use and Related Behavioral Health Problems  Information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The secret to better care: It really is all in your head  The medical community has ignored the research and studies showing the toxic impact of childhood trauma on the developing brain that leads to physical, psychological, and emotional illness. Article by Jeffrey Brenner, M.D.

Want to reduce mental illness? Address trauma. Want to save the world? Address trauma   From ACEs Too High, the comprehensive site on Adverse Childhood Experiences, the ACE Study, developmental neurobiology, and epigenetics.

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