Figure from CDC’s ACEs page.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is an ongoing study examining the impact of negative early life events, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence and family dysfunction, on long-term health and well-being. The ACE study found that more than two-thirds of Americans report at least one ACE and more than one in five report three or more ACEs. The ACE Pyramid, shown above, provided the framework for how the researchers examined the relationship between ACEs and early death from a whole life perspective. During adolescence, people who have had adverse childhood experiences are at higher risk for early initiation of sexual activity, adolescent pregnancy, and substance abuse. ACEs have been linked to a variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and depression, in addition to the negative effects during adolescence.
Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Washington has taken the information from the ACEs study and used it to revamp how they approach discipline. Instead of responding with anger, teachers have been trained to examine what is going on in a students’ home life that is causing the outburst and to help the student work through their anger response so that they can return to learning. Students also learn about the impact of ACEs and how they can learn resilience factors to overcome them. The new approach has reduced suspensions from nearly 800 a year to 135 a year in the first year alone, especially impressive given that Lincoln is an alternative school for students who had been kicked out of other schools.
Schubert Center staff attended Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children Annual Meeting last November. ACES investigator Vincent Filleti provided the keynote address. Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study the long-term impact of violence and chronic stress during childhood. Daniel Flannery researches violence prevention and the impacts of children’s exposure to violence. David Miller studies the impact of chronic stress on adolescents and young adults. James Spilsbury researches the impact of community and family violence on children’s sleep, health and behavior.