Day 19

    Day 19 – Introduction to Adverse Childhood Experiences

    Today, we will begin discussing the intergenerational cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and why this topic can be identified as a social justice issue. Did you know the amount of toxic stress someone has faced in their first eighteen years of life can be measured on a scale of 0-10? Studies show that the higher a person’s score is, the more likely a person is to have negative mental and physical health outcomes later in life. Why is this? We will spend the next three days exploring how ACEs/ toxic stress are public health threats and ways we can balance the risk factors associated with ACEs. 

    Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic life experiences that a person encounters in their first eighteen years of life. These traumatic experiences come in many forms and are traditionally known to include abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. However, many of the methods currently used to measure other forms of ACEs such as racism, bullying, and community violence are overlooked. It is important that these experiences are included in future studies surrounding ACEs because they are known to have the same negative impact on mental and physical health as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Traditional ACEs are often measured on a scale of 0-10. Studies show that there is a link between recurring exposure to toxic stress and future health complications. Click here to learn more about the impact of ACEs on the brain, the types of toxic stress, the lifelong risks of toxic stress, and the best ways to prevent toxic stress that are derived from ACEs.

    According to the Center for Disease Control, one out of seven children in the world faces child abuse and neglect. Exposure to various forms of adversity is very common in America and can lead to mental and health problems later in life. As a society, we need to address risk factors through something called protective factors. Children with parents that have a history of exposure to ACEs in their own childhood are more likely to experience adversity because ACEs are known to be a generational cycle. To prevent this cycle, we need to shift social norms through programs, public awareness, and policies. Such protective factors can balance out the risk factors associated with ACEs. Click here to learn more about the generational cycle of ACEs and the types of programs and policies that can be considered protective factors. 

    Have you witnessed the cycle of ACEs in your community or family? If you have, what are some policies and programs in your community that could help alleviate this burden for community members? 

    Share your responses with us @LWScienceHealth on Instagram.