Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Back to Blog

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse childhood experiences, also known as ACEs, refer to traumatic events that occur during a child’s formative years. These range from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse to neglect, household dysfunction, or witnessing violence. Studies show that such experiences can lead to numerous negative outcomes, particularly when it comes to child development.

What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)? 

ACEs encompass various distressing experiences a child may undergo before the age of 18. These include: 

  • Physical abuse 
  • Sexual abuse 
  • Emotional abuse 
  • Physical neglect 
  • Emotional neglect 
  • Exposure to domestic violence 
  • Household substance abuse 
  • Household mental illness 
  • Parental separation or divorce 
  • Incarcerated household member 

ACEs are a pressing and worryingly common problem. A study by the CDC found that “61% of adults had at least one ACE and 16% had 4 or more types of ACEs.” These instances can have a profound impact on child development and future outcomes. 

ACEs and Child Development 

ACEs affect each individual differently, but they’re commonly associated with issues such as the onset of learning and behavior problems, as well as antisocial behaviors. A recent study found “a 30-fold increase in learning or behavior problems […] between children with high ACE scores (4 or more) compared to children with no ACEs.” 

Moreover, ACEs can result in emotional and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and difficulty forming healthy relationships. The more ACEs a child endures, the higher the risk of experiencing negative outcomes later in life, such as chronic health conditions, substance misuse, and early death. 

Overcoming and Preventing ACEs 

The good news is that preventing ACEs is possible and makes an enormous difference in children’s lives. According to the CDC, ACE prevention could reduce up to: 

  • 21 million cases of depression 
  • 1.9 million cases of heart disease 
  • 2.5 million cases of overweight/obesity 

So, how can we work to help prevent future occurrences, as well as support the children who have been affected? Here are some important strategies: 

  • Promoting safe and stable environments: The primary way to prevent ACEs is by creating nurturing environments where children feel safe and loved. In the absence of that possibility at home, placement programs such as foster care may be necessary to promote child welfare. 
  • Early intervention programs: These aim to detect and address problems early before they escalate. 
  • Professional support: Therapists, counselors, and other trained professionals provide essential assistance to children and families. 
  • Resilience building: Teaching children coping strategies can aid them in managing stress and overcoming adversities. 

We believe every child deserves a safe, stable, and nurturing childhood. Together, we can mitigate the effects of ACEs and create a better future for our children. 

At For Others, our mission is to raise awareness and empower best-in-class organizations to end the child welfare crisis in America. You can help us make that a reality. Donate today to change the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable kids.

Share this post

Back to Blog