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Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example:

  • experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
  • witnessing violence in the home or community
  • having a family member attempt or die by suicide

Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding, such as growing up in a household with:

  • substance use problems
  • mental health problems
  • instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison

Please note the examples above are not a complete list of adverse experiences. Many other traumatic experiences could impact health and well-being.

ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance use problems in adolescence and adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education, job opportunities, and earning potential. However, ACEs can be prevented.


70/30 Campaign: Adverse Childhood Experiences
Understanding ACEs (Handout used by Randy Kaiser at 2022 Childhood Trauma Impact conference)

Summary: ACEs are traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health & well-being.

Download Infographic Handout.

ACE-Informed Approach

Summary: The presence of protective factors can often mitigate the consequences of ACEs.

Download Infographic Handout.

How Childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

Summary: Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect, and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on brain development. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Summary: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. CDC works to understand ACEs and prevent them.

CDC website resources include:

Visit website.

Texas CASA: CASA College Course – Impact of Trauma from Adverse Childhood Experiences

Summary: A CASA College course is available titled Impact of Trauma from Adverse Childhood Experiences.