What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

The British Psychological Society definition of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is as follows.

"ACEs are highly stressful events or situations that happen during childhood and/or adolescence. It can be a single event, or prolonged threats to, and/or breaches of a young person’s safety, security, trust or bodily integrity."

ACEs can be seen to be linked to trauma and are far-reaching in terms of what could fall under the category of an ACE. Examples can include, but are not limited to:

  • Experiencing any form of abuse or neglect
  • Witnessing abuse or neglect, including domestic abuse
  • Exploitation, for example Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Parental abandonment
  • Divorce or separation
  • Parental mental health condition
  • Parental substance misuse

As can be seen, ACEs are not limited to abuse and neglect, and there are a range of experiences which could  be traumatic for a child. For this reason, it is important that both families and professionals are able to recognise when a child experiences an ACE, in order to consider in a timely and proactive manner any support which they might need. 

This page hosts some really useful information to assist parents and professionals alike in their understanding of ACEs and trauma. Browse the resources below for more information.