Help Youth At Risk for ACEs
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Youth-serving and faith-based organizations, coaches, and caregivers can help prevent adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Raising awareness of ACEs in communities about how to prevent these experiences can help children grow up and thrive in a safe and stable environment.
What are ACEs?
Traumatic experiences in childhood and the teenage years may put children at risk for violence, chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance abuse in adulthood. These traumatic experiences are known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These experiences can affect children for years and impact their potential in life.
ACEs may take many forms, including:
Experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
Witnessing violence in the home or community
Having a family member attempt or die by suicide
Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with:
Mental health problems
Instability due to parental separation
Instability due to incarceration of a parent, sibling, or other member of the household
Raising Awareness of ACEs
The first step in helping young people at risk for ACEs is for everyone in our communities to gain a better understanding of these experiences. ACEs are far more common than many people realize. About 6 in 10 adults surveyed reported experiencing at least one ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 of them reported experiencing 4 or more different types of ACEs.
It is also important for people to understand the many long-term consequences of ACEs. ACEs put individuals at risk for chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. For example, there is evidence that these childhood stresses can put people at risk for heart disease and depression later in life. ACEs can also negatively impact education and job opportunities.
Fortunately, educating youth-serving and faith-based organizations, coaches, and caregivers and raising awareness of ACEs in communities about how to prevent these experiences can help children grow up and thrive in a safe and stable environment.
How to Help Prevent ACEs
The good news is that ACEs are preventable. There are a number of strategies that involve people from all sectors of society that can prevent ACEs from happening in the first place and lessen the harmful effects of ACEs that have already occurred. The harmful effects of ACEs can affect everyone in our communities, and everyone can be helpful in preventing them. By keeping ACEs from occurring in the first place and taking quick action when an ACE happens, communities can help all children reach their full potential.