Percentage of children ages 0-17 who have experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).*
*ACEs included in this dataset are economic hardship; parental divorce or separation; living with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem; neighborhood violence victim or witness; living with someone who was mentally ill, suicidal or severely depressed; domestic violence witness; parent served jail time; treated or judged unfairly due to race and ethnicity; and death of parent.
Source: America’s Health Rankings
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are a measure of childhood trauma.
They include economic hardship, parental divorce or separation, living with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem, neighborhood violence victim or witness, living with someone who was mentally ill, suicidal, or severely depressed, witnessing domestic violence, having a parent serve jail time, being treated or judged unfairly due to race and ethnicity, or experiencing the death of parent.
Put simply, a higher number of ACEs mean a higher risk of health problems.
Traumatic experiences can flood a child’s body with stress-related hormones that negatively impact biological and psychological development in a condition called “toxic stress.” Especially if repeated or ongoing, this makes for bad health outcomes over a lifetime. Research has shown a strong connection between ACEs and a heightened risk of chronic diseases, mental health disorders, and even early mortality.
Multiple studies have shown that girls are both more likely to experience ACEs and to experience more than one. 61.7% of Oklahoma women report having experienced at least one ACE in their lifetime. 21.2% have experienced 4 or more.
For women, ACEs are also strongly associated with intimate partner violence (see Intimate Partner Violence), sexual violence (see Sexual Violence), and incarceration (see Female Incarceration) in adulthood.
Most ACEs can occur regardless of socioeconomic status, but some (like divorce or having a parent incarcerated) often strain financial resources. This disproportionately impacts families with lower incomes, who may also struggle to provide their children with professional mental health support after a traumatic event.
Studies have also shown that Black, Hispanic, and multiracial individuals, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community, have higher ACE scores.
Parents with higher ACE scores are far more likely to have children with higher ACEs, highlighting the critical need to support both parents and their children in order to break intergenerational cycles of trauma.
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