What are ACEs?
Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example:
- experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
- witnessing violence in the home or community
- having a family member attempt or die by suicide
Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with:
- substance misuse
- mental health problems
- instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison
ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education and job opportunities.
ACEs are common. About 61% of adults surveyed across 25 states reported that they had experienced at least one type of ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs.
Preventing ACEs could potentially reduce a large number of health conditions. For example, up to 1.9 million cases of heart disease and 21 million cases of depression could have been potentially avoided by preventing ACEs.
ACEs are costly. The economic and social costs to families, communities, and society totals hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
ACEs are preventable. Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full potential.
-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention