“And, so this is what happened…” is often how the stories begin. Each story is unique, but at core, all the same. Someone or someone(s) caused great harm to children and the long term effects for many of those children bear the “fruits” of chronic, deadly medical diseases, such as hypertension, cardiac disease and cancer as well as depression and mental illness that continue deep into adulthood.
We think it important to do some general education on the impact of child abuse, including child sex abuse. The following is taken from the web site ACES Too High
What are ACEs?
ACEs are adverse childhood experiences that harm children’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects show up decades later; they cause much of chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of most violence.
“ACEs” comes from the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a groundbreaking public health study that discovered that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. The ACE Study has published about 70 research papers since 1998. Hundreds of additional research papers based on the ACE Study have also been published.
The 10 ACEs the researchers measured:
- Physical, sexual and verbal abuse.
- Physical and emotional neglect.
- A family member who is:
- depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness;
- addicted to alcohol or another substance;
- in prison.
- Witnessing a mother being abused.
- Losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason.
Of course, there are many other types of childhood trauma — such as witnessing a sibling being abused, witnessing violence outside the home, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, being bullied by a classmate or teacher – but only 10 types were measured. They provide a useful marker for the severity of trauma experienced. Other types of trauma may have a similar impact.
The 10 ACE Questions (and 14 resilience survey questions)
Why are ACEs significant?
The ACE Study revealed five main discoveries:
- ACEs are common…nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults have at least one.
- They cause adult onset of chronic disease, such as cancer and heart disease, as well as mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence
- ACEs don’t occur alone….if you have one, there’s an 87% chance that you have two or more.
- The more ACEs you have, the greater the risk for chronic disease, mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence.
- People have an ACE score of 0 to 10. Each type of trauma counts as one, no matter how many times it occurs.
- You can think of an ACE score as a cholesterol score for childhood trauma.
- For example, people with an ACE score of 4 are twice as likely to be smokers and seven times more likely to be alcoholic.
- Having an ACE score of 4 increases the risk of emphysema or chronic bronchitis by nearly 400 percent, and suicide by 1200 percent.
- People with high ACE scores are more likely to be violent, to have more marriages, more broken bones, more drug prescriptions, more depression, and more autoimmune diseases.
- People with an ACE score of 6 or higher are at risk of their lifespan being shortened by 20 years.
- ACEs are responsible for a big chunk of workplace absenteeism, and for costs in health care, emergency response, mental health and criminal justice.
- So, the fifth finding from the ACE Study is that childhood adversity contributes to most of our major chronic health, mental health, economic health and social health issues.
- What’s particularly startling is that the 17,000 ACE Study participants were mostly white, middle- and upper-middle class, college-educated, and all had jobs and great health care (they were all members of Kaiser Permanente).
ACE Study video — Three-minute trailer for a four-hour CD of interviews with ACEs researchers produced by the Academy on Violence and Abuse.
How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime (16-minute TED Talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris)
Has anyone else done an ACE Study?
Thirty-two states and Washington, D.C. (infographic) have done one or more ACE surveys. Here are links to some of their reports (some states haven’t produced reports).
If you want to learn more about the ACES Studies- head over to their web site: ACES Too High