Violence & adverse experiences

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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

ACEs refer to childhood experiences that include things like:

  • domestic violence
  • parental abandonment through separation or divorce
  • a parent with a mental health condition
  • being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional)
  • being the victim of neglect (physical and emotional)
  • a member of the household being in prison
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems.

The more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely they are to suffer from things like heart disease and diabetes, poor academic achievement and substance abuse later in life. When children are exposed to adverse and stressful experiences, it can have a long-lasting impact on their ability to think, interact with others and on their learning.

While ACEs are found across the population, there is more risk of experiencing ACEs in areas of higher deprivation. There is much that can be offered to build resilience in children, young people and adults who have experienced adversity in early life.

The Bolton Picture


Violence is not inevitable | Violence is preventable | Together we can stop violence

Each year world-wide millions of women, men and children suffer non-fatal forms of violence. This includes child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence and abuse of older people, with many people suffering multiple forms of violence. The impact from violence contributes to life-long illhealth and ultimately early death (WHO, 2022).

Preventing violence is broader than focusing on the violence alone. It is about ensuring that there is good emotional wellbeing, resilient communities, engagement and cohesion, as well as good employment, good education and supportive and nurturing environments to flourish. There have been many studies that have provided evidence to determine what our risk and protective factors are. Understanding these factors means we can develop and adopt new public health-based approaches to tackling violence. Such approaches focus on stopping violence occurring in the first place by reducing known risk factors and promoting the known protective factors throughout the life course. It should be noted that these factors are correlated indicators and not causal factors.

The Bolton picture

Other adverse experiences

Further useful links