When a child is exposed to abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction they are prone to experience social, emotional, or cognitive impairment. They respond by choosing risky behaviors (drugs, smoking, alcohol) which results in disease, disability, or social problems, which often results in an early death.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) affect over 60% of people, resulting in social, mental, physical, and spiritual damage. At the center of self-destructive behavior (illicit drug use, sexual activity, smoking, alcohol abuse, and overeating) is a maladaptive response to the stress caused by adverse childhood experiences.
The physical effects are well documented and wide ranging: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, liver disease, impaired brain development, diabetes, obesity, and more. Emotional effects of ACEs can result in poor self-image, nervousness, anxiety, anger, self-pity, depression, attempted suicide, psychosomatic disorders and more.
The effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) do not just go away. “The ACE Study reveals a powerful relationship between our emotional experiences as children and our physical and mental health as adults”, “It documents the conversion of traumatic emotional experiences in childhood into organic disease later in life”, “One does not ‘just get over’ some things, not even fifty years later” (Felitti, 2002).
The impact of The ACE Study has been monumental- impacting the child protective services programs of nearly every state. Similar studies are being conducted in many nations.