What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are the root cause of many chronic diseases, most mental illness and most violence.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998 showed that if adults experienced them prior to age 18 there was a direct connection between these experiences and future health complications.

The 10 ACEs measured in the research conducted by the Center for Disease Control are:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • A family member who is depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness
  • A family member who is addicted to alcohol or another substance
  • A family member who is in prison
  • Witnessing a mother being abused
  • Losing a parent to separation, divorce or death

These traumas cause toxic stress which is caused by experiencing long lasting, frequent intense situations or events.

What Can Be Done
  • Provide a nurturing, safe and stable environment
  • Help people learn to cope with adversity
  • Reduce a person’s ACE exposure
  • Teach people skills to build resiliency
  • Treat them with understanding and empathy
Calculate your ACE Score

Download and fill out the questionnaire below to get your own ACEs score.

ACE Questionnaire

Understanding your ACE Score

You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390%; hepatitis 240%; depression 460%; and attempted suicide 1,220%.

Ways to Lessen the Consequences of ACEs
  • Foster relationships with competent caregivers or other caring adults
  • Develop communities that support health and development
  • Offer support for parents and families
  • Help people find a sense of purpose
  • Teach people problem-solving skills
  • Build and strengthen resilience through stress management skills training and practice
  • Promote social connections

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