Featured Research Brief: National and State-Level Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

parents arguing near child

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events that some children experience. ACEs can come in many forms and often have lasting negative effects on health and well-being. Some examples of ACEs are physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, parental divorce or incarceration, economic hardship, and a range of parental dysfunctions. Some examples of associated outcomes are obesity, alcoholism, and depression.

A recently released research brief by Child Trends describes work done to identify the prevalence of ACEs among children from birth to age 17 at a national level. Data was collected by means of the National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH; 2012-2013), which polled parent directly for information on ACE rates. The research brief allows for comparisons of eight specific ACEs among all states and across different age groups.

Some key findings were: 

  • The most common ACE in most all states was Economic Hardship. 
  • Divorce was the second most common ACE. 
  • About half of all children have experienced at least one ACE. 
  • States vary in their specific patterns of ACEs. For example, Connecticut and New Jersey have some of the lowest prevalence rates nationally for all ACEs, while Oklahoma has consistently high prevalence. 

For more detailed information download the research brief Adverse Childhood Experiences: National and State Prevalence here http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Brief-adverse-childhood-experiences_FINAL.pdf

The Penn State Clearinghouse has reviewed many programs that may be used to prevent or help military children better cope with ACEs (http://www.militaryfamilies.psu.edu/programs/find-programs).

Some examples:

  • The Children of Divorce Intervention Program (CODIP) program assists children and adolescents affected by parental divorce or separation by teaching coping skills and competencies. This program has been placed as Promising on the Clearinghouse Continuum of Evidence. 
  • The Safe Child Program, designed for use with young children, seeks to help prevent physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. This program has been placed as Promising on the Clearinghouse Continuum of Evidence. 
  • The Triple P System is a public health approach intended to provide parents with strategies in child management in order to help them improve their parenting skills. 

For more information on the placement process visit http://www.militaryfamilies.psu.edu/understanding-placement-process

If you are interested in implementing this or any of the other 885 programs on the Continuum of Evidence please contact our Technical Support team for live help Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM ET. Technical assistance agents may be reached through live chat, phone 1-877-382-9185, or email.

Sacks, V., Murphey, D., & Moore, K. (2014). Adverse Childhood Experiences: National and State-level prevalence. Retrieved from http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=adverse-childhood-experiences-national-and-state-level-prevalence