Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
ACEs have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration and lifelong health and opportunity. These important public health problems include all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (such as clergy, a coach, a teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.
Adverse childhood experiences include:
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional neglect
- Physical neglect
- Mother treated violently
- Household substance abuse
- Household mental illness
- Parental separation or divorce
- Incarcerated household member
In Virginia 19% of children have experienced two or more ACEs. ACEs have a negative impact on a child’s health and well-being later in life. The effect of toxic stress resulting from trauma may not be immediately visible or appear as one would expect. The accumulation of multiple ACEs is associated with a detrimental long-term impact on health and development.
ACEs are Preventable
ACEs and their associated harms are preventable. Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full health and life potential. Preventing ACEs requires addressing factors at all levels of the social ecology—the individual, relational, community, and societal levels. One approach to buffer the impact of ACEs is to promote stable and supportive relationships with caregivers. Working together, we can help create neighborhoods, communities, and a world in which every child can thrive.