What is adverse childhood experiences (aces)?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are things that happen during the first 18 years of life that cause trauma. Or they can be things that have a negative impact on a child's sense of safety, stability, or bonding in the home.

Some examples of ACEs include:

  • Experiencing violence, neglect, or abuse.
  • Witnessing violence.
  • Growing up in a household with:
    • Adults who have mental health or substance use problems.
    • Divorced or separated parents.
    • A household member who is in jail or prison.

Children who've had multiple ACEs are at higher risk for chronic health problems, mental health problems, and substance use problems later in life.

What happens when you've had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)?

ACEs are common. But they affect people in different ways. How you are affected may depend on the types of ACEs you've experienced, how many you have, and how much distress they caused. People with multiple ACEs tend to have more physical and mental health problems than those with fewer ACEs.

What are some examples of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)?

Here are some of the most common types of ACEs.

  • Emotional abuse. An adult insults, puts down, or swears at a child. Or an adult acts in a way that makes the child afraid they will be hurt.
  • Physical abuse. An adult hits, kicks, or physically hurts a child.
  • Sexual abuse. An adult (or older child) touches a child in a sexual way, makes a child touch them in a sexual way, or has sex (or tries to have sex) with a child.
  • Violence in the home. A child sees adults in the home physically harming each other.
  • Substance use problems in the home. A household member has problems with drinking, drug use, or misusing prescription medicines.
  • Mental health problems in the home. A household member is depressed, has mental health issues, or has attempted or died by suicide.
  • Emotional neglect. An adult in the home doesn't make a child feel safe, protected, and cared for.
  • Physical neglect. An adult in the home doesn't make sure that a child's basic needs are met.
  • Divorce or separation of parents.
  • Having a household member go to prison.

There are other childhood experiences that can cause trauma as well. For example, things like discrimination, being bullied, and being in foster care can also cause stress that can have long-term effects.

How to Overcome Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

What are adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)?

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are things that happen before adulthood that can cause trauma. Or they're things that make a child feel like their home isn't safe or stable. Some examples of ACEs include violence, neglect, abuse, and family mental health or substance use problems.

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