ACE’s – Adverse Childhood Experiences – 4th March 2019

Club meeting on 4th March addressed by Andrew Bennett – Programme Support Consultant to the Early action Together Programme and to the National approach to the Policing Vulnerability Programme.

An extremely thought provoking programme – comprehensive data on the way ACE’s can affect future and current generations – an excellent presentation.

What are ACE’s :

Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

ACEs include:
• Physical abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Emotional abuse
• Physical neglect
• Emotional neglect
• Intimate partner violence
• Mother treated violently
• Substance misuse within household
• Household mental illness
• Parental separation or divorce
• Incarcerated household member

• Preventing ACEs and engaging in early identification of people who have experienced them could have a significant impact on a range of critical health problems. Using ACEs research and local ACEs data to identify groups of people who may be at higher risk for substance use disorders and to conduct targeted prevention is of significant use in preventing adverse experiences
ACEs Research and Behavioural Health
Research has demonstrated a strong relationship between ACEs, substance use disorders, and behavioural problems. When children are exposed to chronic stressful events, their neurodevelopment can be disrupted. As a result, the child’s cognitive functioning or ability to cope with negative or disruptive emotions may be impaired. Over time, and often during adolescence, the child may adopt negative coping mechanisms, such as substance use or self-harm. Eventually, these unhealthy coping mechanisms can contribute to disease, disability, and social problems, as well as premature mortality.
ACEs and Substance Use
• Early initiation of alcohol use. Efforts to prevent underage drinking may not be effective unless ACEs are addressed as a contributing factor. Underage drinking prevention programs may not work as intended unless they help youth recognize and cope with stressors of abuse, household dysfunction, and other adverse experiences.
• Higher risk of mental and substance use disorders as an older adult (50+ years). ACEs such as childhood abuse (physical, sexual, psychological) and parental substance abuse are associated with a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder.
• Continued tobacco use during adulthood. Prevalence ratios for current and ever smoking increased as ACEs scores increased, according to a 2011 study on ACEs and smoking status.
• Prescription drug use. For every additional ACE score, the rate of number of prescription drugs used increased by 62%.
• Lifetime illicit drug use, drug dependency, and self-reported addiction. Each ACE increased the likelihood of early initiation into illicit drug use by 2- to 4-fold, according to a 2003 study on childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction and the risk of illicit drug use.

ACEs and Behavioural Problems
• Suicide attempts. ACEs in any category increased the risk of attempted suicide by 2- to 5-fold throughout a person’s lifespan, according to a 2001 study. Individuals who reported 6 or more ACEs had 24.36 times increased odds of attempting suicide.
• Lifetime depressive episodes. Exposure to ACEs may increase the risk of experiencing depressive disorders well into adulthood—sometimes decades after ACEs occur.
• Sleep disturbances in adults. People with a history of ACEs have a higher likelihood of experiencing self-reported sleep disorders, according to a 2015 systematic review of research studies on ACEs and sleep disturbances in adults.
• High-risk sexual behaviours. Women with ACEs have reported risky sexual behaviours, including early intercourse, having had 30 or more sexual partners, and perceiving themselves to be at risk for HIV/AIDS. Sexual minorities who experience ACEs also demonstrate earlier sexual debut according to a 2015 study.
• Foetal mortality. Foetal deaths attributed to adolescent pregnancy may result from underlying ACEs rather than adolescent pregnancy,
• Pregnancy outcomes. Each additional ACE a mother experienced during early childhood is associated with decreased birth weight and gestational age of her infant at birth.
• Physical health outcomes. Experiencing adverse childhood family experiences may increase the risk for long-term physical health problems (e.g., diabetes, heart attack) in adults..
• Poor dental health. Children who have experienced at least one ACE are more likely to have poor dental health.


President Dave Roberts & Andrew Bennett

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