What are ACEs

Adverse Childhood Experiences, (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic experiences that can have a huge impact on children and young people throughout their lives.

The ten widely recognised (ACEs), as identified in a US study from the 1990s, are:

Abuse:

  • physical
  • sexual
  • verbal

Neglect:

  • emotional
  • physical

Growing up in a household where:

  • there are adults with alcohol and drug use problems
  • there are adults with mental health problems
  • there is domestic violence
  • there are adults who have spent time in prison
  • parents have separated

As well as these 10 ACEs there is a range of other types of childhood adversity that can have similar negative long-term effects. These include bereavement, bullying, poverty and community adversities such as living in a deprived area, neighbourhood violence etc.

Why do ACEs matter?

Adversity in childhood can create harmful levels of stress which impact healthy brain development. This can result in long-term effects on learning, behaviour and health.

ACEs have been found to be associated with a range of poorer health and social outcomes in adulthood and that these risks increase as the number of ACEs increase.