The acronym ACEs stands for ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences.’ These are stressful, traumatic experiences that can negatively impact a child’s brain development and physical, mental and social behaviors.

ACEs that children experience include

  • Physical abuse from a parent or relative
  • Emotional abuse from a parent or relative
  • Sexual abuse from a parent or relative
  • Emotional abuse from a parent or relative
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Experiencing neglect from a primary caregiver
Find out your ACEs score by answering the questions here.

Children who experience these ACEs build up toxic stress over time, which can have lasting negative effects. The ACE Study shows that the more ACEs a child experiences, the higher the risk of medical, mental and social problems as an adult.

ACEs > TOXIC STRESS

Toxic stress is caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). When children are worried about getting enough to eat, living with an abusive family member or the witnessing domestic violence in their home, they see the world as a dangerous place. As a child experiences ACEs over and over again, his or her toxic stress level continues to rise. These children develop defensive, aggressive behaviors and are less trusting of others. They can’t focus on learning or building healthy relationships with others, because they’re too busy worrying about surviving.
As toxic stress levels build, this can lead to the cycle repeating itself. The ACE Study proves that the more ACEs a child encounters, the higher their risk of medical, mental and social problems as an adult. The ACE Study shows that those with four or more types of ACEs were twice as likely to be smokers, seven times more likely to be an alcoholic, 10 times more likely to have injected street drugs and 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide. The higher someone’s ACE score, the more likely they are to be violent, and have more marriages, broken bones, drug prescriptions, depression, auto-immune diseases and work absences.
However, ACEs don’t always have to lead to such a tragic ending. We can turn this around. Learn more about the Science of Hope.
The acronym ACEs stands for ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences.’ These are stressful, traumatic experiences that can negatively impact a child’s brain development and physical, mental and social behaviors.