Skip to main content

Strategies to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences are vital, says new handbook for professionals.

Published: 9 November 2023

A team of researchers from Public Health Wales have developed a handbook to guide professionals and organisations on how to implement work to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  Working in collaboration with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe and Liverpool John Moores University they developed the guide to help professionals to take action to build resilience in children, and develop trauma-informed organisations, sectors and systems. 

ACEs include child maltreatment (such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse) and other stressful experiences within the first 18 years of life, such as exposure to family and intimate partner violence or substance abuse by parents or caregivers. These experiences have the potential to alter a child’s developing brain and biological systems and can have harmful impacts across the life-course. Therefore, addressing ACEs and reducing the burdens on individuals, families and wider society is essential. 

The handbook brings together evidence, resources and case studies from across Europe and internationally. As well as highlighting strategies and information on preventing ACEs, building resilience and developing trauma-informed systems, it presents a series of steps that can be used to put strategies into action. These include: 

  1. Assessing the current situation and collecting data 

  1. Raising awareness, gaining commitment, and advocating for change 

  1. Developing partnership working 

  1. Selecting, adapting, or developing interventions based on evidence and resources 

  1. Providing training, support, and a culture for change 

  1. Evaluating action,  

  1. Scaling up, embedding, and sustaining effective action.  

Case studies from around the world, including Wales, Montenegro, Finland and Ireland provide examples of how these steps have been implemented in practice.  

ACEs can have an immediate physical and psychological impact on a child, but can also increase the risk of later behavioural, health and social problems that impact individuals, communities, societies, and health and other services. The handbook underlines the importance of organisations pulling together to understand how they can take action to prevent ACEs occurring and build people’s resilience to lessen their effects. 

Public Health Wales researcher, Sara Wood said “The value of our handbook is in helping professionals move from knowledge of ACEs through to action. By bringing existing resources together in one place and including real-life experiences of experts involved in implementation, we hope the handbook offers inspiration and guidance to those working in the field.”  

A webinar launching the handbook will take place on Tuesday 14th November at 9.30-11.00 GMT, or 10.30-12.00 CEST. Click here to register.