Adverse Childhood Experiences: What Are They?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are categorized into three groups: abuse, neglect, and household challenges. All ACE questions refer to the respondent’s first 18 years of life.
- Emotional abuse: A parent, stepparent, or adult living in your home swore at you, insulted you, put you down, or acted in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt.
- Physical abuse: A parent, stepparent, or adult living in your home pushed, grabbed, slapped, threw something at you, or hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured.
- Sexual abuse: An adult, relative, family friend, or stranger who was at least 5 years older than you ever touched or fondled your body in a sexual way, made you touch his/her body in a sexual way, attempted to have any type of sexual intercourse with you.
- Household Challenges
- Mother treated violently: Your mother or stepmother was pushed, grabbed, slapped, had something thrown at her, kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, hit with something hard, repeatedly hit for over at least a few minutes, or ever threatened or hurt by a knife or gun by your father (or stepfather) or mother’s boyfriend.
- Substance abuse in the household: A household member was a problem drinker or alcoholic or a household member used street drugs.
- Mental illness in the household: A household member was depressed or mentally ill or a household member attempted suicide.
- Parental separation or divorce: Your parents were ever separated or divorced.
- Incarcerated household member: A household member went to prison.
- Emotional neglect: Someone in your family helped you feel important or special, you felt loved, people in your family looked out for each other and felt close to each other, and your family was a source of strength and support.2
- Physical neglect: There was someone to take care of you, protect you, and take you to the doctor if you needed it2, you didn’t have enough to eat, your parents were too drunk or too high to take care of you, and you had to wear dirty clothes.
You Got Your ACE Score...Now What?
The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) uncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.
The first research results were published in 1998, followed by more than 70 other publications through 2015.
They showed that:
- childhood trauma was very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance;
- there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;
- more types of trauma increased the risk of health, social and emotional problems.
- people usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.
A whopping two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one — 87 percent of those had more than one. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC’s ACE Study.
SOURCE and LEARN MORE: ACES TOO HIGH