About Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term used to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people under the age of 18.

Adverse Childhood Experiences have been linked to

  • risky health behaviors,
  • chronic health conditions,
  • low life potential, and
  • early death.

As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.

The presence of ACEs does not mean that a child will experience poor outcomes. However, children’s positive experiences or protective factors can prevent children from experiencing adversity and can protect against many of the negative health and life outcomes even after adversity has occurred.

It is important to address the conditions that put children and families at risk of ACEs so that we can prevent ACEs before they happen. CDC promotes lifelong health and well-being through Essentials for Childhood. Essentials for Childhood offers strategies to assure safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children.

CDC has also developed a technical package, Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for Policy, Norm, and Programmatic Activities Cdc-pdf[3.69 MB, 52 Pages, 508] to help communities take advantage of the best available evidence to prevent child abuse and neglect. Also available in Spanish Cdc-pdf[21 MB, 52 Pages, 508].

How can we prevent child abuse and neglect?
Page last reviewed: April 9, 2019