Adverse Childhood Experiences: The Behaviors They Produce in Relation to Gun Violence and Crime

March 8, 2024

Ever heard of ACEs? ACEs stand for Adverse Childhood Experiences. This article will break down, explain, and expose the correlation between youth violence and youth trauma.

Adverse Childhood Experiences are defined as:

- Child physical abuse

- Child sexual abuse

- Child emotional abuse

- Emotional neglect

- Physical neglect

- Mentally ill, depressed, or suicidal person in the home

- Drug-addicted or alcoholic family member

- Witnessing domestic violence against the mother

- Loss of a parent to death or abandonment by parental divorce

- Incarceration of any family member for a crime

1 in 6 individuals have experienced four or more types of ACEs in their childhood.

What's your score out of the 10 above? Imagine being a child struggling with an average of four or more of the challenges listed above. The idea of behaving well, excelling in school, and navigating childhood is unfathomable. Unfortunately, these unrealistic expectations are placed on our youth, who also lack safe spaces to feel understood and secure.

Children who experience ACEs are more likely to develop behavioral problems, such as aggression, impulsivity, and difficulty regulating their emotions. These behaviors can persist into adolescence and adulthood, increasing the risk of engaging in violent or criminal activities.--

ACEs can also affect the development of the brain, particularly areas responsible for impulse control and decision-making. This can lead to difficulties in controlling behavior and making positive choices, further increasing the risk of involvement in gun violence and crime.

Addressing the underlying causes of ACEs, such as poverty, substance abuse, and family dysfunction, can help reduce the prevalence of these experiences in the first place. This requires a comprehensive approach that involves communities, schools, healthcare providers, and policymakers working together to support children and families. By addressing the root causes of ACEs and providing support to those affected, we can work towards reducing the prevalence of gun violence and creating safer communities for all.

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Program Manager-Partnerships