Adverse Childhood Experiences
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress disrupt healthy child development
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study shows that the long-term impact of child abuse and neglect is not simply an impact on the individual victim. Problems linked to child abuse and neglect tax healthcare, education, and criminal justice systems. Child abuse affects a community’s quality of life and economic prosperity.
An economic analysis released by Prevent Child Abuse America in May 2012 estimated the annual cost of child abuse and neglect in North Carolina is $2 billion. This includes the direct, short-term costs of immediate medical attention, mental health services, the child welfare system, and law enforcement.
ACEs include child abuse, neglect, parental stress, divorce, parental unemployment, parental mental illness, or addiction.
Children who experience abuse develop toxic levels of stress. Consistent, high levels of stress without the buffer of a nurturing adult become toxic to a child and actually damage the developing architecture of a child’s brain. The changes to a child’s brain caused by exposure to toxic stress can lead to significant behavioral changes and long-term health consequences.
More than one in four people have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), and one in eight has experienced at least four or more ACEs during their childhood. The greater number of Adverse Childhood Experiences increases the risk of long-term negative health and behavioral consequences.
The indirect, long-term costs include special education, early intervention, emergency housing, long-term mental health care, long-term physical health care, juvenile delinquency, the adult criminal justice system, and lost worker productivity costs related to children and adults who have been abused.
Reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences leads to positive long-term outcomes for children and communities, including reducing risk for serious health complications and helping children grow into more prosperous and productive adults.
Be an advocate
If you suspect a child is abused or neglected, you have a duty to make a report.
Call Mecklenburg County's 24-hour abuse/neglect hotline: 980-31-HELPS
If a child is in immediate
danger, call 911.