Research has shown that the higher the combination of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), the higher the risk of detrimental future health conditions and individual and interpersonal problems. The costly consequences could be prevented by truly investing in all children and nurturing relationships.
ACEs and Toxic Stress
ACE Pyramid - Mechanism by which Adverse Childhood Experiences influence health and wellbeing throughout the lifespan
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A report for the GLA estimated that 10 per cent of Londoners are likely to have experienced four or more different types of adversity, including abuse or neglect.
A similar evaluation is addressed in the ACE Index, a national study that produced a ranking of ACEs prevalence across England using official data such as child protection plans. The study concluded that London was among the most affected areas.
The London Assembly Health Committee has also released official data in 2020 on the intersections among children having experienced up to three specific ACEs: domestic abuse, substance misuse and parental mental ill-health. Children having experienced all three were reported to total 3097. The Committee pointed to difficulties in assessing the true numbers, which are probably much higher across Greater London.
While methods of measurement may differ, it is clear that much more should be done to assess the true level of need in London and to translate the results into policy.
The evidence from surveys and studies carried out in the UK since 2014 has been reported by the Commons Select Committee as follows:
47% of English adults had experienced at least one ACE and 9% experienced 4 or more.
Scottish Public Health estimated that prevalence in Scotland would be at least as high.
50% of Welsh adults had experienced at least one ACE and 14% experienced 4 or more.
The Children’s Commissioner’s Office estimated at least 690,000 children aged
0–5 in England live in a household with an adult that experienced domestic violence and abuse, substance misuse or mental health difficulties.
As big as the challenges associated with ACEs are the initiatives from communities, survivors, practitioners and researchers who are committed to understanding, promoting and building resilience.
The Welsh Adverse Childhood Experience and Resilience Study interviewed approximately 2,500 adults aged 18-69 years in various parts of Wales in 2017.
The data showed a direct association between childhood resilience and mental health across the lifespan. It also demonstrated that having some resilience resources more than halved risks of current mental illness in those with four ACEs or more.
The science demonstrates that resilience is built from interactions with others. Nurturing relationships play a significant role in this process, especially when we face multiple challenges growing up.
Discover more about the science of resilience through these stimulating resources: