The term ‘adverse childhood experiences’ or ACEs is used to describe a wide range of stressful or traumatic experiences that children can be exposed to whilst growing up. ACEs range from experiences that directly harm a child (such as suffering physical, verbal or sexual abuse, and physical or emotional neglect) to those that affect the environment in which a child grows up (including parental separation, domestic violence, mental illness, alcohol abuse, drug use or incarceration).
A Blackburn with Darwen study found that almost half (47%) of adults across the borough have suffered at least one ACE, with 12% of adults in Blackburn with Darwen having suffered four or more ACEs. The study has shown that the more ACEs individuals experience in childhood, the greater their risk of a wide range of health-harming behaviours and diseases as an adult.
The work that we are doing across Blackburn with Darwen aims to both prevent ACEs occurring in the first place wherever possible, and to prevent the consequences of ACEs in those that have already experienced them.
The impact of ACEs
ACEs can have a negative impact on development in childhood and this can in turn give rise to harmful behaviours, social issues and health problems in adulthood. There is now a great deal of research demonstrating that ACEs can negatively affect lifelong mental and physical health by disrupting brain and organ development and by damaging the body’s system for defending against diseases. The more ACEs a child experiences, the greater the chance of health and/or social problems in later life.
Although the effects of ACEs can last a lifetime, childhood adversity does not have to define who you are and we know that the negative effects of ACEs can be overcome by building resilience.
By seeking support, you can both reduce the impact of ACEs on your own life and break the cycle to prevent ACEs occurring in the next generation. This support can come from something as simple as a chat with a friend or family member, via your GP, or through one of the wide range of local and national organisations below that will help you recognise, work through and reverse the impact of ACEs for yourself or somebody you care about.
Training providers and further information:
ACE Hub BwD Twitter
Ace Hub BwD Follow
A growing network of people in BwD advocating for greater understanding and action around Adverse Childhood Experiences. We all have a part to play.