Important Facts for Adverse Childhood Experiences ACEs
DefinitionChildhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. The ACEs included here are a collection of common experiences that may be traumatic to children and youth. They include abuse, neglect, and household challenges that occur during the first 18 years of life. ACEs have been shown to have a potential impact on future violence, victimization, and perpetration, as well as lifelong health and opportunity. ACEs are common; as nearly two-thirds (61.6%) of surveyed U.S. adults experienced at least one ACE and many adults experienced more than one. ACEs can affect optimal health and development across the lifespan, particularly in the absence of protective factors. However, ACEs are preventable, and when present their effects can be mitigated.
NumeratorThe 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020 BRFSS respondents who responded affirmatively to the eleven questions in the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Module.
DenominatorThe number of adults aged 18 and above who participated in the 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020 BRFSS.
Data Interpretation IssuesBRFSS Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Module Looking back before you were 18 years of age---. 1) Did you live with anyone who was depressed, mentally ill, or suicidal? 2) Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic? 3) Did you live with anyone who used illegal street drugs or who abused prescription medications? 4) Did you live with anyone who served time or was sentenced to serve time in a prison, jail, or other correctional facility? 5) Were your parents separated or divorced? 6) How often did your parents or adults in your home ever slap, hit, kick, punch or beat each other up? 7) Before age 18, how often did a parent or adult in your home ever hit, beat, kick, or physically hurt you in any way? Do not include spanking. 8) How often did a parent or adult in your home ever swear at you, insult you, or put you down? 9) How often did anyone at least 5 years older than you or an adult, ever touch you sexually? 10) How often did anyone at least 5 years older than you or an adult, try to make you touch sexually? 11) How often did anyone at least 5 years older than you or an adult, force you to have sex? Module Weaknesses: Limited to specific more common adversities; Severity or frequency of potential trauma is unknown; All experiences are weighted equally; Module does not account for protective factors in the past that might prevent or mitigate the negative long-term impacts of childhood adversities.
Why Is This Important?Exposure to ACEs may result in toxic stress responses that can impede a child's development, such as changes in gene expression, changes in brain connectivity and immune function, and changes in the type of coping strategies adopted. While many coping strategies are healthy and help reduce acute stress, some (e.g. smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, using substances, engaging in risky sexual behavior) present additional risks to health and wellbeing. As such, exposure to early adversity can increase the risk of later chronic and infectious health conditions through changes in physiological mechanisms, as well as increased engagement in health risk behaviors, and can ultimately result in premature death.
Healthy People Objective IVP-38:Reduce nonfatal child maltreatment
U.S. Target: 8.5 maltreatment victims per 1,000 children