Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Continue reading to learn about how adverse childhood experiences can impact a child’s life and what we’re doing at BBBST to mitigate the effects of toxic stress

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Credit: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
History of ACEs

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study done by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest studies done into abuse suffered by a child and their well-being later on in life.* Over 17,000 adults participated by completing surveys that discussed their childhood experiences*. Responses were looked at in conjunction to their medical histories. The results were staggeringAccording to the Center for Youth Wellness “Almost two-thirds (63.9%) of participants reported having one or more adverse childhood experience. One in eight participants (12.5%) reported having four or more ACEs”**. As a result of the study, researchers noted a strong correlation between ACEs and poor health outcomes among participants**

Consequences of ACEs

The more ACEa child has, the greater their risk for chronic disease and mental illness. Each type of trauma an individual is subject to, counts as one point. A person with 4 or more ACEs is 2.4 times as likely to have a stroke, 1.9 times as likely to have cancer, 1.6 times as likely to have diabetes, increases the risk of attempted suicide by 1,200% percent **,***. A person with an ACE score of 6 or higher is at risk of their lifespan being shortened by 20 years*** 


Children who grow up surrounded by ACEs tend to be exposed to higher stress levels. This can actually lead to significant physical impacts on the child. A little bit of stress in your life can be good for you. This is called ‘Positive Stress’ and it can result from anything ranging from the first day of school, to a big exam, to a music recital – it is a normal part of growing up and can help you learn to handle stress. When you are exposed to an event or environment that is threatening or harmful, your brain switches to a fight or flight modeToo much of this can cause ‘Chronic Toxic Stress’. Toxic stress can cause physical damage to your body. When you are living in this state of stress, your body continuously releases cortisol and adrenaline. Too much of these can lead to high blood pressure, and eventually leading to a weakened heart and circulatory system, increase cholesterol, and even increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.  


The good news is, there are steps we can all take to help reduce the consequences of ACEs in young people’s lives. According to the CDC, some of the best ways to do this include actions such as teaching healthy relationship skills and connecting youth with caring adults and activities. Knowing this confirms how important work of organizations like BBBST are in this process****. The work BBBST does with children and youth across the GTA won’t get rid of ACEs in the Littles life, however, it can help to mitigate the side effects of these ACEs. Throughout the programming that our agency runs, whether it be in-school mentoring or 1:1, our Bigs work with young people on a wide range of skills and provide support. These combined camitigate some of the effects of the ACEs on their lives.