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Facts About Adverse Childhood Experiences

TXTS 4 Teachers

Facts About Adverse Childhood Experiences

Kimberly St Clair

An immediate need in today’s education system is bringing awareness to teachers and leaders about students with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

ACEs are traumatic events (e.g., sexual, physical, emotional abuse) or chronic stressors (e.g., neglect, parental separation) that are not in the child’s control.

Youth who have experienced trauma are at significant risk for:

  • Impairments in cognitive functions, including IQ, memory, attention and verbal ability

  • Low academic performance

  • Troublesome behaviors that may result in discipline referrals, poor attendance, and/or dropping out of school

Research shows that 66% of children have at least one ACE. It’s not uncommon for students to have more than two ACES. For example, a student would have an ACE score of three if

  • Parents are divorced

  • One parent is clinically depressed

  • And the other parent was verbally abusive to one or more family members

Let’s look at some statistics with implications for Arizona students and teachers. Nationwide, 30.5% of children ages 12-17 have experienced two or more ACES. In Arizona that statistic is 44%. In 2012, Arizona had an estimated 69,000 youth with five or more ACEs. For context, 69,000 youth could fill the Cardinals Stadium.

As the number of ACEs increases, so do the negative risks. The good news is that we can implement strategies to help at-risk students and increase our effectiveness as educators. Look for more information about ACEs and Trauma Informed Strategies in upcoming TXTS4 Teachers.

To review the ACE questionnaire, please click this link.