What are ACEs?

ACEs are Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as childhood trauma.

What is childhood trauma?

Trauma occurs when a child’s coping abilities are overwhelmed as he experiences and reacts to an adverse event or series of events.

Unfortunately, childhood trauma is common. ACEs appear in many forms and can affect brain development, behavior and learning.  It is estimated that one-half to two-thirds of all children have experienced trauma.

The term ACEs is taken from the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a groundbreaking public health study that discovered how childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violent behaviors, substance addiction, and sometimes an early death.

The 10 ACEs researchers measured:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Family member with mental illness
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Parent with drug/alcohol addiction
  • One or more parent incarcerated
  • Parental separation, divorce or abandonment

Of course, there are many other types of childhood trauma — such as witnessing the abuse of a sibling, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, exposure to violence outside the home, being bullied by a classmate or teacher – but only 10 types were initially measured. Those ten that were measured provide a useful marker for the severity of trauma experienced. Other types of trauma may have a similar impact.

 

How do ACEs affect development?

ACEs can interfere with brain development, learning, and behavior. Forming trusting relationships and managing emotions can be difficult for a child impacted by trauma.

 

How do ACEs affect a child’s ability to learn?

Some kids might skip school just to avoid the hassle.  Decreased reading scores, lower GPAs, truancy and reduced graduation rates, along with an increase in teen pregnancy, joblessness, and poverty, are some long-term outcomes of childhood trauma.

 

How do ACEs affect behavior?

Distressing thoughts about a painful event or fearful that a traumatic incident will occur again can interfere with healthy responsiveness within relationships.  Traumatized children can have trouble getting along at home or school.  When this happens they are sending up an SOS—telling us that something is wrong and they are experiencing emotional pain.

 

How do ACEs affect the future of our children and our community?

ACEs harm a child’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects are not only apparent now, but show up decades later.  Unresolved childhood trauma causes much of chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of most violence.

 

But research also shows that we can change the damaging effects of childhood trauma.

 

Join us to learn more about rewriting the story of childhood trauma in Pottstown!

Traumatized children can have trouble getting along at home or school.  When this happens they are sending up an SOS—telling us that something is wrong and they are experiencing emotional and possibly physical pain.