What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Infographic created to share information about what adverse childhood experiences are, how prevalent they are and their impact.

Experiences children have, good or bad, can influence their physical and mental health as they age. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that could hinder a child’s healthy development and could create long-lasting, negative effects as he or she develops into an adult. Some of the negative experiences may include physical, emotional or sexual abuse; divorce or incarceration of parents; or growing up with a parent who has a mental illness or a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Today, researchers are trying to better understand how these ACEs connect to negative health outcomes, like obesity, heart attacks, alcoholism, and depression. One study by Moore et al. (2014) sought to establish the prevalence of ACEs and determine, on average, how many ACEs individuals encounter. They found almost half of the children in the United States had encountered at least one adverse experience, and they concluded that, as a child ages, the prevalence of undergoing more adverse experiences increased.

It is important for parents to be aware of their child’s physical and mental well-being and to provide him or her with a stable and loving environment. Help your child build resilience if he or she is exposed to an adverse environment and help him or her form secure attachments that can foster a sense of security and belonging.

Watch the video here to learn more about how you can help to minimize ACEs in your family and your community: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gm-lNpzU4g


Moore, K., Sacks, V., Bandy, T., & Murphey, D. (2014). Adverse childhood experiences: National and state-level prevalence. Bethesda, MD: Child Trends.

Infographic “Truth About ACEs” (May 12, 2013). Credit:  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.

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