The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.
The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States. It is critical to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences. Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention and recovery.
Finding Your ACE Score
Prior to your 18th birthday:
- Did a parent or other adult in the household, often or very often…Swear at you, insult your, put down, or humiliate you? OR Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
- Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often…Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? OR Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
- Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever…Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? OR Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
- Did you often or very often feel that…No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? OR Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel closed to each other, or support each other?
- Did you often or very often feel that…You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? OR Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
- Were your parents ever separated or divorced or never married?
- Was your mother or stepmother…Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? OR Sometimes, often or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? OR Ever repeatedly hit at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
- Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?
- Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
- Did a household member serve time in jail or prison?
- Did you experience repeated bullying as a child?
- Did you repeatedly experience discrimination based on ethnicity, skin color or sexual orientation?
- Did you live in a neighborhood that experienced gang related violence?
- Did you ever live in a foster home or group home?
Now give yourself one point for every yes answer. _______ This is your ACE Score.
As the number of your ACE score increases, so does your likelihood for negative health outcomes. More than likely, you are apt to experience risky behaviors:
- alcohol and/or drug abuse
- lack of physical activity
- missed work
- unintended pregnancies
The impact on your physical or mental health may include:
- severe obesity
- suicide attempts
- low self-esteem
- heart disease
- school and/or work problems
- broken bones
- unhealthy relationships
In order to change your future, you must understand how your past has created your present.