ACE Study on the Effects of Violence and Trauma in Childhood

CDC’s ACE STUDY/Brain/Trauma/Violence in Childhood

 Adverse Childhood Experiences/Human Development


Our Nation must establish a strategic plan to Stop the Violence in America and make A Safe Nurtured Childhood a National Priority

A child’s exposure to domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other stress causing traumas results in children suffering more illnesses and injuries as children, later as adults, and are expected to have a shortened life span. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE)  HEAL MOTHERS AND CHILDREN Nurtured Parenting

“Today, a Nurtured Childhood is Endangered and Child Abuse poses the greatest risk to our children’s well being. Besides the disastrous human toll that abuse causes, it is crippling a nation financially.  The strength of our GNP lays at the feet of our youth.  We must honor Childhood, and hold sacred the seed of Humanity.  By Committing ourselves and federal resources to addressing the Adverse Childhood Experiences, in doing so, we can transform the ills of our society.  With urgency, we must begin now.  The damage that has been created will take our combined efforts in the public and private sector. For the purpose of prevention, and protection, we must hold criminals accountable and provide safety.

The future of our Nation depends on this commitment.  We believe A Joyful Childhood Lasts a Lifetime.”  MBarnett, Mothers of Lost Children

Research on Child’s Development as they are affected by; Emotional, Physical, Sexual Abuse and exposed to a Violence Culture and Home life including effects of stress and Bullying, Brain health and learning difficulties

 The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.  What began as a study funded by the CDC and Kaiser Permanent on obesity, that included More than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) members undergoing a comprehensive physical examination chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction.  The ACE study turned into the largest study in our country that resulted in new information about child sexual abuse and its impact on society addressed all issues of health, normal healthy development (including learning disorders) ,welfare, housing, incarceration and future victimization.

What is most shocking is that this report was made in 2002, where it attributed all major illness and connected the trillions of dollars spent yearly in this country directly connecting family violence, community health hazards and community welfare.    If we want to address the increase in violence in our country and create a healthier society we must first address the origins of violence and abuse and 

If we want to address the increase in violence in our country and create a healthier society we must first address the origins of violence and abuse and correlation of illness and drug addiction, the family.  It’s time to commit funding and resources to creating a safer healthier America.

Peace begins at home!


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ACE Study site– From the site: “Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors which we term adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are common. Almost two-thirds of our study participants reported at least one ACE, and more than one of five reported three or more ACE. The short- and long-term outcomes of these childhood exposures include a multitude of health and social problems.”

ACE Study DVD — The video above is an introduction to a DVD that contains four hours of presentations by and interviews with Dr. Robert Anda and Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-founders of the ACE Study. The DVD also has an interview with Dr. David Williams, a CDC researcher who introduced Felitti and Anda, and also contributed to the project. All provide information about the genesis of the research, its findings, its impact, and how it might be implemented. Dr. Frank Putnam, a child psychiatrist and director of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, provides his view of the impact of the research.  A high-quality production, the DVD is divided into chapters. You can order it from the Academy on Violence and Abuse. 

Maralee Mclean and Dr. Vincent Felitti founder of ACE study

Maralee Mclean and Dr. Vincent Felitti founder of ACE study- Prosecuted but Not Silenced

Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn’t Mean

Three types of adversity that make for a tough childhood.

Three types of adversity that make for a tough childhood.

“Children learn from their environment, that is their Classroom, knowing this we must be especially careful.  Our Children are Adversely Effected by All Forms of Abuse. Good Parenting provides the foundation for healthy development, trust, and safety, Parents are a child’s first teacher.

Parents and Guardians model behaviors, that are used by children to emulate and gain a lifetime of knowledge. The foundation of a child’s development is vulnerable to the environment they are raised in.  Human beings learn everything from their  families, neighborhoods, school, and community.  Our children’s health, Mental and physical fitness and core beliefs which develope into self-knowledge and awareness are established in early childhood.

The kingdom of childhood is real.  It is the most important faze of human development and must be respected, and nurtured.  Above all things essential to life over food, air, shelter and water, an attached caring adult. Without, careful, loving adults in a child’s life the child will be harmed.  Loving care provides shelter, and a nurturing environment.  They are present to guide and support.  The bond between attached families and a child if severed causes catastrophic damage.  Our systems to support growing families in the United States lack the understanding of Growth and Development of Young Children and Adolescent Well being.  There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study are: physical, verbal and sexual abuse, and physical and emotional neglect; a family member who abused alcohol or other drugs, who was depressed or mentally ill, or was in prison; witnessing a mother being abused, and loss of a parent through separation or divorce.

As a nation we must make a commitment to address the pandemic of Violence in America and child abuse.  We must establish a National Policy to Protect our Children. By making a Nurtured Childhood the number 1 priority we must address: Early Education, Childcare.Equal pay. Maternal/Infant Health, Support for Single Parents, attached parenting, support for mother-child bond, Non-Violent Parenting, and Protection.

We Support  Federal Oversight hearings on Human Rights of Children in America, and how they are treated in Family Custody Matters.  We support Reform of CPS/DCSF: Child Protection Agency- to include /Dependency/Juvenal courts and Establish new trauma informed Courts, courtwatch, and judicial oversight, and accountability of family court professionals and specialists. Child Centered Custody Plans. Reform Foster CARE system.

A National Child Safety Plan Must include National Mandated Reporter Trainings/Protection for Whistleblowers/Accountability: Training for Law Encouragement, Court, Secular and Non Secular Communities, Child Sexual Assault Investigations, Multidisciplinary Task forces. Community and Parent Non-Violent Education and Counseling Services. Cleaner Environment. Nutrition. Well being: Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health.

The state of our Nations children is Historically, at is very lowest.  Research indicates that the categories of Poverty, Hunger, Obesity, Death, Domestic Violence (Domestic Violence being the number 1 cause of fetal death), Death to Guns, Drugs, Illness, Depression, Suicide,  statistically have crossed into pandemic rates.  The rise of Violence in America, on TV and in the streets is adversely effecting our children. After decades of research we have halfheartedly created federally funded national campaigns that do little more than lip service to address the real needs of our nation’s children.  We need a strategic plan to end violence in America and we need it now. ” MBarnett

The following studies and trauma informed practices to better understand the concept of ‘ACE’:

The Effects Of Child Abuse The Bomb in the Brain Part 1 – The True Roots of Human Violence

The Bomb in the Brain Part 2 with Dr. Felitti, Part 3 and 4

How childhood trauma could be mistaken for ADHD

ADHD symptoms? Psychologists, psychiatrists should consider child maltreatment as the cause before prescribing meds

Research reveals new ways of understanding ADHD

surgeon general warning



Although research confirms mothers make deliberately false allegations of sexual abuse less than 2% of the time, custody courts are giving the alleged sexual predator custody in 85% of these cases. This means, courts are sending a lot of children to live with their rapist. Barry Goldstein, Author and DV Expert

Most contested custody cases are domestic abuse or child abuse cases in which the abuser has been allowed to use the courts to regain control over their victim, and bankrupt the safe, primary care giving, protective parent. The Nurtured Parent Support Group for Survivors of Domestic Abuse

The standard and required domestic violence training received by evaluators, judges and lawyers does not adequately prepare them to handle abuse cases. Inadequately trained professionals tend to believe the myth that mothers frequently make false allegations. 2012 U.S. Department of Justice Dr. Daniel Saunders Report

The public can’t protest what it doesn’t know. And because they don’t know what’s happening in the family courts across the nation, this is nothing short of a national scandal. Small Justice: Little Justice in America’s Courts –Documentary Film by Garland Waller

Criminal courts—with the heavy burden on proof beyond a reasonable doubt—will convict people for crimes of abuse on the same evidence that family court judges deem to be no evidence at all. Richard Ducote, Esq.

An estimated 58,000 children a year are court ordered for custody or unsupervised visitation with reported abusers.  

“Fathers who battered the mother are twice as likely to seek sole custody of their children as are non-violent fathers.”
~American Psychological Association~

American Psychological Association. (1996). Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family , Washington, D.C.: Author.

“We are now recognizing in medical science and practice that there are real and significant effects when children grow up with toxic and persistent stress,” said Robert W. Block, MD, past president of the AAP, in an interview. “Those effects take a toll on the ability to learn in school and informally.”

AAP: Toxic Stress Threatens Kids’ Long-term Health

“The most beneficial action a court can take for a child exposed to domestic violence is to end the exposure and support the protective parent” says Lynn Hecht Schafran

This article, written by Lynn Hecht Schafran and published in the Summer 2014 issue of The Judges Journal, discusses current science on the impact that witnessing domestic violence has on children’s developing brains.

In 2000, the National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) added a ground-breaking unit on the neurobiology of trauma to our curriculum on adult victim sexual violence. Judges and others have found this neuroscience unit extremely helpful in understanding phenomena such as why the way in which traumatic memories are recorded and recalled prevents victims of traumatic events such as rape from producing the sequential, never-forget-a-detail narrative of the assault that most people expect.

Judges’ Journal 2014 Domestic Violence – Impact on Children – Neuroscience


by Peter Ernest Haiman, Ph.D.

“Often I have served as an expert witness for parents in family court. Recently, I watched helplessly as the court made a decision I knew would exacerbate, if not cause, child abuse and additional trauma to a two-year-old child. The mother was the primary caregiver, and it was to the mother that the child turned for comfort when in distress.”

“This problem is not new. For decades, judges, attorneys, and even mediators have been making decisions that result in the ill-advised separation of very young children from their parents or other primary caregivers.”

Childhood physical and sexual abuse, as well as witnessing of maternal battering, were common among the adult members of an HMO in this study. Among those reporting any maltreatment, more than one-third had experienced more than one type of maltreatment. A dose-response relation was found between the number of types of maltreatment reported and mental health scores. In addition, an emotionally abusive family environment accentuated the decrements in mental health scores. Future research examining the effects of childhood maltreatment on adult mental health should include assessments of a wide range of abusive experiences, as well as the family atmosphere in which they occur.

Relationship between multiple forms of childhood maltreatment and adult mental health in community respondents: results from the adverse childhood experiences study.
Edwards VJ1, Holden GW, Felitti VJ, Anda RF.

Maltreatment at an early age can have enduring negative effects on a
child’s brain development and function

Child abuse ‘has serious consequences for brain development’

Domestic violence can ‘scar’ a child’s DNA: Watching family members being hurt is linked with damage to chromosomes

  • Scientists found the more fractured families are, the more likely it is the children will be altered genetically
  • This included children in homes affected by domestic violence or suicide
  • Children were found to have shorter telomeres than those in stable homes
  • Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes
  • Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes and mental illness

Read more:

A new study reveals young adults show long-term ill effects of having been bullied as a child

Experiential avoidance increases PTSD risk following child maltreatment

Child abuse is a reliable predictor of post-traumatic stress disorder, but not all maltreated children suffer from it, according to Chad Shenk, assistant professor of human development and family studies, Penn State, who examined why some maltreated children develop PTSD and some do not.

 CAPTA – Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) turns 40 this year. It’s birth represented a milestone in our accepting of children’s rights and what is necessary to keep them healthy. After 40 years, CAPTA is still an essential tool to protect children, although newer research shows we’re harming children if we rely on it too heavily.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was essentially the first piece of federal legislation to codify a novel concept- that all children had rights above and beyond being the property of their parents


“The greatest threat to America’s economic, military and national security comes from no enemy without but from our failure, unique among high income nations, to invest adequately and fairly in the health, education and sound development of all of our young.”


Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. This three-part video series from the Center and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child depicts how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse.

“The CDC’s groundbreaking epidemiological study discovered a link between childhood adversity and the adult onset of chronic disease , mental illness, violence and becoming a victim of violence. The 10 adverse childhood experiences measured in the Florida research and the CDC’s ACE Study were: emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; emotional and physical neglect; and five types of family dysfunction: witnessing a mother being abused, household substance abuse, household mental illness, losing a parent to separation or divorce, and having an incarcerated household member.”

Statute of Limitation- Research and Trauma