This is the second post in a series specifically geared for parents, guardians, and those who have direct involvement with children. There is a research test called the ACE test (Adverse Childhood Experiences) that has been created to detect what childhood trauma looks like in adults. This is not a fool-proof test as it cannot measure stressors that occurred outside of the household, protective factors as well as individual differences.
However, high ACE scores have revealed an alarming trend amongst victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Dr. Vincent Felitti – “Emotional and physical abuse is part and parcel to being trafficked, let alone the sexual abuse that is inherent to the industry”
Research has shown that ACEs have a tremendous impact on future violence, victimization, and perpetration. Studies show that children and youth who experience high levels of traumatic situations are at higher risk of injury, mental health problems, teen pregnancy, violence, and involvement in human trafficking incidents.
If you would like to take the short quiz yourself, here is the link: https://www.ncjfcj.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/Finding-Your-Ace-Score.pdf
If you scored 4 or higher, you yourself are at risk which places your child/ren at risk as well as some studies show that parents with greater exposure to ACEs are more likely to have children with behavioral health problems.
But don't despair!
Again, please keep in mind that ACE scores don't tally the positive experiences in early life that can help build resilience and protect a child from the effects of trauma. Having a grandparent who loves you, a teacher who understands and believes in you, or a trusted friend you can confide in may mitigate the long-term effects of early trauma, psychologists say. "There are people with high ACE scores who do remarkably well," says Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician and director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. "Resilience," he says, "builds throughout life, and close relationships are key." (emphasis mine)
Research suggests that just one caring, safe relationship early in life gives any child a much better shot at growing up healthy.
Adverse Childhood Experiences and the connection to
commercial sexual exploitation:
Take the ACE quiz and learn what it does and doesn't mean: