Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful events occurring in childhood including:
- domestic violence
- parental abandonment through separation or divorce
- a parent with a mental health condition
- being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional)
- being the victim of neglect (physical and emotional)
- a member of the household being in prison
- growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems.
ACEs and Health:
An ACE survey with adults in Wales found that compared to people with no ACEs, those with 4 or more ACEs are more likely to:
- have been in prison
- develop heart disease
- frequently visit the GP
- develop type 2 diabetes
- have committed violence in the last 12 months
- have health-harming behaviours (high-risk drinking, smoking, drug use).
When children are exposed to adverse and stressful experiences, it can have a long-lasting impact on their ability to think, interact with others and on their learning.
ACEs should not be seen as someone’s destiny. There is much that can be done to offer hope and build resilience in children, young people and adults who have experienced adversity in early life.