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4.3 Assignment: Adverse Childhood Experiences

Every student of psychology should know about the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) study and the persuasive results it produced. The ACE study started in 1985 and involved researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and more than 17,100 members of the Kaiser Permanente’s San Diego care program.


The study showed that children exposed to adverse experiences, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or having a substance-abusing parent, for example, had a significantly increased risk of chronic disease, learning problems, relationship distress, and mental illness later in life.


You might be thinking it is common sense to link a person’s troubled home life as a child to later life problems. For example, a child who grows up in a substance-abusing home is more likely to abuse substances in adolescence or adulthood. A child who is physically abused is at greater risk for becoming an angry person who takes out their rage on others when they are older. You don’t have to be a psychologist to make these logical connections.


But the ACE study gave the mental health community hard facts on this correlation. For example, the study (and many subsequent ones since the original) has shown that adverse childhood experiences are common. Here are some of the specific findings: Two out of every three people (67 percent) in the United States have had at least one of these adverse experiences in childhood. Twenty percent have had three or more, and one in eight have had four or more ACEs. A child who experiences four or more ACEs prior to age 18 is 12 times more likely at a later point in time to attempt suicide, seven times more likely to become an alcoholic, and ten times more likely to become addicted to drugs. Those with a high number of ACEs are also more likely to be violent, have learning difficulties, have multiple marriages, be chronically depressed, and die prematurely.


The ACEs study is arguably the most important research on the relationship between trauma and mental and physical health we have. The implications are profound. A study of trauma would not be complete without including exposure to this material.


In this assignment, you have the opportunity to explore the ACE study and think critically about the implications of such weighty data. Exposure to this material will help heighten your awareness of these issues so that, as you enter the profession of psychology, you can be an agent of influence to curb this epidemic of adverse experiences for children and the long-term consequences it has for these children and for the entire society.


Upon successful completion of the course material, you will be able to:


· Explore the implications of the ACE study to the larger problem of trauma and mental health issues in today’s society.


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· Textbook:  Modern Psychopathologies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal


· Article: Did You Know Childhood Trauma Affects Nearly Half of American Children?


· Video: Nadine Burke Harris—How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime


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Background Information


To complete this assignment, first read the chapter from the textbook, “Problems Arising from Trauma,” then watch the video, which is a TED-style talk by one of the most important and prominent voices speaking about ACEs today. Then read the article on child exposure to trauma. Going through the resources in that order will build the base of knowledge you will need to complete this assignment.


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1. Read Chapter 10, “Problems Arising from Trauma,” in your textbook.


2. Review the video,  Nadine Burke Harris—How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime .


a. A transcript is available on the website.


3. Review the article,  Did You Know Childhood Trauma Affects Nearly Half of American Children? .


4. Write a three- to four-page paper that addresses the following:


a. What is your response to the statistic in the article that nearly half of the U.S. population of children have experienced at least one of the ten ACEs?


b. What do you think the implications are for these children and for the mental health of our society as these children grow up?


c. If you had the influence and ability to implement one major initiative on a national level to address this tragic trend of childhood ACEs, what would it be? Explain in detail.


d. Suggest one application of how you could be a positive influence to advocate for the safety and respectful treatment of children within the realms that you currently live.


5. Elaborate fully in your responses. Be sure to cite your sources in  APA Style  format in the text of your paper and in a reference page at the end.

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