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ACEs: What Are They and How Do They Affect Us?

At Cornerstones of Care, we talk a lot about the importance of being a trauma-informed organization. This means we recognize the effects trauma has on children and seek to care for them appropriately in light of that. One way to measure the effects of trauma is through the study of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. 

ACEs are negative stress-inducing circumstances children experience that shape the way they process and interact with the world around them. Developed by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the ACE Study is a series of questions that can predict the likelihood of a series of health difficulties later in life. Questions in the study explore whether you have experienced emotional or physical abuse, witnessed violence toward a parent, lived with addictive behavior in the home and if you had a parent who was incarcerated.

The CDC-Kaiser study linked high ACE scores to higher risks of exhibiting unhealthy behaviors; committing violence or re-victimization; and disease, disability, and premature mortality. At no fault of their own, individuals with high ACE scores face some definite challenges as they navigate the world.

ACE Study in Kansas City

Resilient KC recently conducted a study of 3,757 participants in the Kansas City metro area.

  • 57% surveyed had experienced some form of emotional abuse as a child.
  • 29% of participants had been bullied as children.
  • 27% had witnessed violence.
  • 27% had grown up in a neighborhood where they didn’t feel safe or that people didn’t look out for each other.
  • And adults who took the survey had also witnessed a parent or adult in their home being physically or emotionally abused at 4 times greater than the rate found in the original CDC-Kaiser study.

These are individuals are us, our neighbors and our family members. They belong to every ethnic and socioeconomic group. No one is immune to the effects of trauma. Read the entire Resilient KC study to learn more.

Hope in the Midst of the Pain

Though we all experience trauma, there is a chance for everyone to develop resilience and to heal from the wounds they carry. Resilient KC developed a tool of seven factors that help build resilience:

  • Access to supportive relationships
  • Development of a desirable personal identity
  • Experiences of power and control
  • Experiences of social justice
  • Access to material resources (financial, educational, medical, employment, etc.)
  • Experiences of a sense of cohesion
  • Adherence to cultural practices 

Cornerstones of Care offers a host of programs that can help individuals process through what they have experienced and build resiliency. View a full list of available resources including education, family support, child support and mental health services.