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The term ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) became a "thing" after the release of a report from the United States Centre for Disease Control. The study's aim was to try to quantify the effect of adverse childhood experiences on long term population-wide health outcomes. It is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and household challenges and later-life health and well-being, with over 17,000 completing the confidential survey. Due to the broad nature of population-wide studies, the researchers had to assimilate hundreds of different types of things that are considered traumatic in childhood into a concise list of questions, balancing the need for measurable outcomes that were a balance of reasonable to ask
Suggesting that adversity of any kind is bad or traumatic is not what ACEs are about. While abuse and neglect should always be considered fundamentally wrong, traumatic and preventable, the same cannot always be said for adversity. Everyone will experience adversity at some point and there is often strength and hope to be found in it. Our responses to adversity can nurture resilience and loving relationships while also defining our identities
Knowing your ACE Score is not going to fix anything, but it may help you be more gentle on yourself. It may provide an explanation for why you behave or react to certain situations the way you do. It may help you understand the origin of ..... And once you understand the root cause, or causes, you can work with professionals to heal and live well with your childhood experiences
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), did you often or very often feel that
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), were your parents ever separated or divorced?
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), was your mother or stepmother
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
While you were growing up (during your first 18 years of life), did a household member go to prison?
Not all children who experience child maltreatment become adults who abuse or neglect their own children. Intergenerational patterns of child abuse and neglect are complex and nuanced.
There is generally not a single factor that results in the abuse or neglect of a child; it is usually a combination of various factors. In addition, the duration (such as the duration of an illness) or intensity (such as the level of drug or alcohol abuse) can make it more or less likely that a child will be at risk for abuse. When trying to understand child abuse and neglect, we often look at possible factors in the adult, factors based on something in society, and factors based on something about the child.
There are many deeply rooted, complicated, and interrelated societal factors that can contribute to child abuse and neglect. While we cannot list them all here, the following two factors are often identified as increasing the likelihood that child abuse and neglect will occur.
Research tells us that there is no "typical" abuser. People who abuse children may be male or female and the majority of child abuse is committed by someone who knows the child. In over 80% of cases, a parent is the identified perpetrator. The following are characteristics of some people who abuse children.
Some children have certain characteristics or behaviors that make it more likely that they will be at risk for abuse or neglect. However, it is important to remember that no matter what characteristics a child has or how they act a child is NEVER responsible for being abused or neglected.
These wide-ranging health and social consequences underscore the importance of preventing ACEs before the nurturing relationships and environment can have a positive impact on a broad range of health problems and on the development of skills that will help children reach their full potential. Strategies that address the need of children and their families include:
Child abuse and neglect may show up in physical or behavioral signs, some of which are listed here. In many instances there appears to be an unusual pattern or location of physical injuries that suggests abuse. Some of the signs listed may indicate problems that do not involve abuse or neglect.
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