Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can take place within three realms:

  • Households (including abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and parental mental illness)
  • Community (such as poverty, poor housing quality, lack of social capital)
  • Environment (pandemics or natural disasters)

All three types of ACEs create toxic stress, which can hinder a child’s development. If left unaddressed, toxic stress limits resiliency and negatively impacts future health and well-being. 

This April, during Child Abuse Prevention Month, we are focusing our discussion of ACEs to those that occur within a household or family. These negative and traumatic experiences are more likely than we would like to think! A study with 17,000 participants showed that 64% of people had at least one ACE during their childhood, while 12% experienced 4 or more adverse experiences. 

There is a link between these experiences and future issues in adulthood including chronic disease, mental illness and violence. Unfortunately, that link is even more for those who experienced a high number of ACEs.    

The good news is that we can recover from ACES when we have safe relationships! See how in this animated story created by our friends at Studio Flatland:

We can all help build resilient children and resilient families! Join us this month in our upcoming blog posts as we explore recommendations from the PACEs Connection team regarding how to support families and prevent children from experiencing ACEs. As PACEs explains, “Educating parents about their own ACEs helps them understand their lives and motivates them to become healthy parents to prevent passing their ACEs on to their kids.”


April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the Virginia Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline at (800) 552-7096. The hotline is staffed 24/7. You may make a call anonymously, but if you provide your name it will allow local authorities to follow-up with you.