ACE is an acronym that stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences — traumatic events that can affect a young person’s social development and behavior. In our Sunday story, reporter Claudia Rowe examines the role ACEs can play in students’ behavior and how educators at one Spokane school are implementing ACE research into how they handle discipline.
Adverse childhood experiences are more common than many people think. The following questions represent the 10 most common types of childhood trauma covered in the ACE study. Additional traumatic experiences outside of the ones listed here could make a person more vulnerability to the effects of toxic stress.
Prior to your 18th birthday:
- Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt? If yes, add 1 point
- Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured? If yes, add 1 point.
- Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you? If yes, add 1 point.
- Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other? If yes, add 1 point.
- Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it? If yes, add 1 point.
- Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason ? If yes, add 1 point.
- Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife? If yes, add 1 point.
- Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs? If Yes, add 1 point.
- Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? If yes, add 1 point.
- Did a household member go to prison? If yes, add 1 point.
Now add up your “Yes” answers. This is your ACE score.
An ACE survey that involved people in 18 states found nearly two-thirds of participants had a score of at least 1. Nearly 13 percent of respondents reported scores of 4 or higher.