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Practical Insights into Childhood Adversity

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the term used to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people under the age of 18. Data from the original ACEs study conducted in 1995 by CDC and Kaiser Permanente reveal that ACEs are quite common even among a middle-class population. In fact, more than two-thirds of the population report experiencing one ACE, and nearly a quarter have experienced three or more ACEs. The study also found a powerful, persistent correlation between the number of ACEs experienced and the the chance of poor outcomes later in life, including dramatically increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, substance misuse, smoking, poor academic achievement, time out of work, and early death. While ACEs are common, youth-serving professionals and programs can have a positive influence on children experiencing adversity. This includes increasing predictability and decreasing uncertainty, increasing trust while decreasing fear, and raising self-worth while lowering self-doubt.
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