Adverse Childhood Experiences

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What are ACEs?

ACEs are serious childhood traumas - a list is shown below - that result in toxic stress that can harm a child's brain. This toxic stress may prevent a child from leaning, from playing in a healthy way with other children and can result in long-term health problems.

How do ACEs affect health?

Through stress, frequent or prolonged exposure to ACEs can create toxic stress, which can damage the developing brain of a child an affect overall health.

ACE's Health Effects

Adverse Childhood Experiences can include:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional neglect
  • Physical neglect
  • Mother treated violently
  • Household substance abuse
  • Household mental illness
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarcerated household member
  • Bullying (by another child or adult)
  • Witnessing violence outside the home
  • Witness a brother or sister being abused
  • Racism, sexism, or any other form of discrimination
  • Being homeless
  • Natural disasters and war

Exposure to childhood ACEs can increase the risk of:

  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Illicit drug use
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Liver disease
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancy

The Good News - Resilience Brings Hope!

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to return to being healthy and hopeful after bad things happen. Research shows that if parents provide a safe environment for their children and teach them how to be resilient, the effects of ACEs are reduced.

Parents, teachers and caregivers can help children by:

  • Gaining an understanding of ACEs
  • Creating environments where children feel safe emotionally and physically
  • Helping children identify feelings and manage emotions
  • Creating a safe physical and emotional environment at home, in school and in neighborhoods

What does resilience look like?

Smiling teenage girl sitting on couch with hands on cheeks

1. Having resilient parents

Resilient parents who know how to solve problems, who have healthy relationships with other adults who build healthy relationships with their children.

2. Building attachment and nurturing relationships

Adults who listen and respond patiently to a child in a supportive way and pay attention to a child's physical and emotional needs

3. Building social connections

Having family, friends and/or neighbors who support, help and listen to children.

4. Meeting Basic Needs

Providing children with safe housing, nutritious food, appropriate clothing and access to health care and good education.

5. Leaning about parenting and how children grow

Helping children interact in a healthy way with others, manage their emotions and communicate their feelings and needs

6. Building social and emotional skills

Understanding how parents can help their children grow in a healthy way and what to expect from children as they grow.

*All above information on this page is from Michigan ACE Initiative and The MAHP Foundation

Michigan ACE Initiative Training

Through the Michigan ACE Initiative trainers are available to present to your community, group, or organization. There is a shorter Core Talk that would take 1 hour and a more comprehensive 3-hour version.

  • The training will provide linkage between Adverse Childhood Experiences and subsequent adult illness, chronic disease, and behavioral issues that is striking and affirmed by neurological and epigenetic research.
  • According to a State of Michigan face sheet 28.5% of Michigan children up to age 17 had two or more ACE factors.
  • Michigan ACE works throughout the state to train and equip those who interact with children on a regular basis.
  • The training will help attendees recognize and understand behaviors that exemplify ACEs. Building awareness helps children build resilience to ACEs.
  • The MAHP Foundation has established a state-level steering committee composed of the senior executive leadership of the major state trade associations for health, education, law enforcement, etc.
  • You can learn more about the initiative at
  • The cumulative effects of ACEs reflect a powerful opportunity for PREVENTION - no matter if you are working to prevent heart disease or cancer, end homelessness or hopelessness, improve business profitability or reduce interactions with law enforcement.

If you would like a free presentation, please contact

J. Thomas Munley, LPC, CTP-C/Coordinator - Mid-Michigan Trauma Collaborative
P: 517-882-4000
F: 517-882-3506