Health Effects Of Childhood Exposure To Violence

This page is part of the Health effects of violence project.

Survivors of violence can experience both immediate and long-term mental and physical health consequences, and violence can impact the overall health and well-being of families, communities, and societies. While violence is detrimental at any point in the lifespan, these experiences in childhood can have a particularly damaging effect. The impact of childhood trauma is often deep and life-shaping, with physical, sexual, and emotional violence in particular becoming "central realities around which profound neurobiological and psychosocial adaptations occur" [3].

Research gaps that the ACE Study sought to address. Image from

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study was a groundbreaking study with 17,000 participants between 1995 and 1997 [2]. The ACE study measured exposure to childhood abuse, neglect, and other stressors (such as violence in the home or parental incarceration) and current health status and health behaviors. Respondents were given an "ACE Score", based on the total number of Adverse Childhood Experiences they reported. This study has demonstrated that as the number of ACE increase, the risk for health problems such as ischemic heart disease, fetal death, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, substance abuse, and adolescent pregnancy increased in a strong and graded fashion.[1]

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This page is part of the Health effects of violence project.

See also:

1. Brown, D. W., Anda, R. F., Tiemeier, H., Felitti, V. J., Edwards, V. J., Croft, J. B., & Giles, W. H. (2009). Adverse childhood experiences and the risk of premature mortality. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(5), 389-396.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013, Jan. 18). Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Atlanta: CDC. Retrieved January 16, 2014 from
3. Fallot, R., and Harris, M. (2009). Creating cultures of trauma-informed care (CCTIC): A self-assessment and planning protocol. University of Iowa: Community Connections.
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