What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic or stressful events that occur prior to the age of 18. Examples of ACEs include abuse, neglect, bullying, poverty, discrimination, homelessness, witnessing violence, living with a substance abuser or a family member with a mental illness, natural disasters, divorce or family separation.
How common are ACEs in Oregonians?
ACEs are common regardless of age, race or socio-economic status. In Oregon, 64% of adults and 51% of children have experienced at least one ACE. As a child’s age increases, so does the likelihood of experiencing more ACEs. More information about the number of Oregonians who have been affected by ACEs is on this website.
What’s the big deal?
ACEs have been connected with development delays, violence, STDs, substance abuse and even chronic disease. Read about the implications of the ACE Study.
The impact of ACEs
ACEs cause toxic stress, which can harm a child's brain. Toxic stress may cause problems with behavior, learning and even making friends. After experiencing a traumatic event, a child may feel vulnerable or helpless. These feelings may cause them to adopt risky behaviors such as drinking, overeating and smoking to help them manage their emotions. Those risky behaviors can then lead to poor health, disease, disability and even early death. Learn more about the effects of toxic stress on the developing brain.
I have an ACE score. Now what?
Not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event during childhood will have poor health when they become an adult. There are many things individuals and families can do to improve their health outcomes. Resilience is a buffer against the negative impact of ACEs. Everyone has the potential to be a resilient person, no matter what your ACE Score is. Find tips on how to build resilience here.