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Adverse Childhood Experiences

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Adverse childhood experiences are traumatic events, particularly those in early childhood that significantly affect the health and well-being of people.

These experiences range from suffering verbal, mental, sexual and physical abuse, to being raised in a household where domestic violence, alcohol abuse, parental separation or drug abuse is present.

What do we know about Adverse Childhood Experiences?

In 2016, Public Health Wales published the first Welsh adverse childhood experiences study which revealed 47% of adults in Wales suffered at least one adverse childhood experience in their childhood, and 14% suffered four or more.

Children who experience stressful and poor quality childhoods are more likely to experience poor mental health due to poor self-image and self-worth. They are more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours during adolescence which can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes later in life.

Adverse childhood experiences are not just a concern for health; experiencing them can mean individuals are more likely to perform poorly in school and more likely to be involved in crime both as victims and perpetrators.

People who experience multiple adverse childhood experiences as children often raise their own children in households where adverse childhood experiences are more common. This cycle of childhood adversity can lock generations of families into poor health and anti-social behaviour.

We can break the cycle at any stage: it’s never too late. Preventing adverse childhood experiences in a single generation or reducing their impacts can benefit not only those children but also future generations in Wales.

Adverse childhood experiences aren’t just about children, they affect people of all ages, aren’t just about people living in poverty, they cross every social boundary. However, research shows that those living in areas of deprivation are at greater risk of experiencing multiple.

What are we doing to address Adverse Childhood Experiences?

The ACE Support Hub exists to ensure Wales becomes a world leader in Adverse Childhood Experience free childhoods. Working with you, our mission is to share ideas and learning, and to challenge and change ways of working so together, we break the cycle.

We will do this by:

  • Spreading information and knowledge enabling the voices of communities, children and families to co-design solutions that will work for them.
  • Sharing evidence about what organisations can do differently to help prevent and mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Developing knowledge and skills amongst professionals, providing training for them to enable themselves and their organisations to grow their internal and external networks to change practice.
  • Pulling learning from individuals, communities, organisations and the wider system and sharing it through a range of action learning sets and communities of practice.
  • Driving change and system transformation at local and national levels.

Find out more about the ACE Support Hub by visiting their website,

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