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Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Surgeon General of California

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

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).

Adverse childhood experiences are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse.

ACEs can be prevented. Learn more about preventing ACEs in your community.


(Adverse Childhood Experiences)

As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for negative health outcomes.

ACEs are preventable.

ACEs Include:

  • Physical abuse

  • Sexual abuse

  • Emotional abuse

  • Physical neglect

  • Emotional neglect

  • Intimate partner violence

  • Mother treated violently

  • Substance misuse within the household

  • Household mental illness

  • Parental separation or divorce

  • Incarcerated household member

ACEs Have Been Linked To:

  • Risky health behaviors,

  • Increased substance misuse,

  • Reduced academic/career performance,

  • Difficulties in relationships,

  • Chronic health conditions, and

  • Early death.

*Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More Information:

CDC - Kaiser ACE Study

Learn more about the original study including ACE definitions, study demographics, and major findings.


Learn more about the BRFSS ACE module including ACE definitions, study demographics, and major findings.

Journal Articles

View a sample of selected adverse childhood experiences journal articles by topic area.


Find list of documents, web pages, and tools to help you understand and use data.

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