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ACE Study FAQ

Girls coping with trauma are often met with harsh discipline at school

Schools can be a place where traumatized kids heal, but far too often they are a place where traumatized children are harshly punished and where they get worse, not better.

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The Latest: New Charges filed in foster care sex abuse case

A Long Island foster parent who sexually abused children in his care but is protected by New York’s Statute of Limitations on the crime has had new charges filed against him, and his case has ignited an investigation of NY’s foster care system.

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Abuse victim in ‘Spotlight’: Extend statute of limitations in Pennsylvania

A survivor who shared his story with the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team uses his story to support efforts to eliminate the Statute of Limitations on child sexual abuse.

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Breaking The Cycle

Part of breaking the cycle of abuse is not raising your children with the secrets, lies and shame you were raised with

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Why Statute of Limitations Reform works, and Mandated Reporter Laws Don’t

There is no legislative fix that will do as much to prevent child sexual abuse as Statute of Limitations reform. Changes to the Mandated Reporter laws are being suggested as a remedy to a recent sex abuse scandal involving the Boy Scouts, but this cannot work as well as SOL reform.

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The most disturbing aspect of a sexual-abuse scandal at an elite, New England prep school

A new, independent report reveals the St. George boarding school knew about child sexual abuse within its ranks and helped sexually abusive teachers get jobs elsewhere

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Where Is the Line?

If we think that a little corporal punishment is OK, how do we know how much is OK? Isn’t it better that we don’t use it at all?

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Why Residency Restrictions For Sex Offenders Just Don’t Work

Laws that restrict where registered sex offenders are popular among certain political circles. However, they don’t work, and between the false sense of security they generate, and the fact they are often used as an excuse to kill less popular legislation, they are truly a bad idea.

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Taking A Stand Against Abuse

On Saturday Sept. 17 the Stop Abuse Campaign and Eain’s Echo will have an event at Cazenovia Park in Buffalo NY to raise awareness about abuse, it’s prevention, and to help survivors heal.

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Child Victims Act supporters press on after chief Assembly sponsor’s loss in primary

Despite the overwhelming success of candidates who vocally support the Omnibus Child Victims Act, the bill’s original sponsor lost the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

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Governor Cuomo, The Children Are Watching

New York’s Governor Cuomo has said that he supports the Omnibus Child Victims Act, but he has yet to exercise his leadership and push for this bill. Meanwhile, New York’s four million children are depending on him to do the right thing.

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Guam’s lawmakers vote to lift statute of limitations for sex abuse

The territory of Guam has just eliminated their Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse.

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9/11

The 15th anniversary of 9/11 is approaching. Tips on how to talk with your children about the tragedy.

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Child abuse, including sexual abuse, is on the rise in Pa.

Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now. By  Ivey DeJesus   The welfare of children across Pennsylvania took a downward turn last year, according to a report out today from the state Department of Human...
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Homophobic priest accused of molesting child

A priest with a strong opinion against homosexuality has been credibly accused of molesting a boy 30 years ago. And due to New York’s Statute of Limitations on the crime, he faces no punishment.

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Put Down Your Phone!

Somehow, we seem to manage to discard some of the best things of older generations while maintaining the worst.

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Man sexually abused as teen sues camp that employed abusive counselor

A New York businessman is trying to sue the summer camp where he was sexually abused. After he learned that the man who abused him had abused others, he felt the need to do something.

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Fake News About Child Sexual Abuse is No Laughing Matter

Fake News About Child Sexual Abuse is No Laughing Matter By Nancy Levine First Published in Medium   Fake news isn’t always so funny. While The Onion and The Daily Show have had us in stitches for years, fake news and false information published by a seemingly...
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Babysitter gets 30 days for child molestation

Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now. By Rachel Dubrovin SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A Springfield babysitter will spend a month in jail after pleading guilty to child molestation. Police say Joseph Presley admitted to...
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Florida judge reprimanded for sending sexual abuse victim to jail for failing to testify against abuser

A Florida judge has been publicly reprimanded for sending a sexual abuse survivor to jail for three days last year.
The victim’s crime: she failed to testify against the man who had allegedly abused her.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Doesn't everyone experience some adversities in childhood?
Yes, but the ACE study did a good job at sorting out which ones are most likely to cause long term damage to someone throughout their lifespan. It also quantified exactly how damaging they are, and how they interact.
What are the ACE study factors?
There are three basic categories of factors; childhood abuse, childhood neglect, and household dysfunction. These, in turn, are broken down into ten separate experiences, all of which are given an equal weight.  
So what exactly happens when a child experiences one of these things?
All of these events are so stressful to a child that they actually affect the way their brain grows and develops. The brain and endocrine system release chemicals that are useful in ensuring short-term survival, but are harmful to long-term health. They also make changes in the way cells interact with their own DNA.
How can things that happen in childhood have such a long-term effect on a child's future?
There are some logical relationships between some of these effects. A child whose brain developed under chronic stress is going to crave experiences that make that brain act normally. Alcohol, tobacco and street drugs all can help achieve those ends. Since the drive to use those is partially biological, it makes logical sense that this helps lead to the increased risk of addiction that is seen in people with high ACE scores. And the use of these drugs, in and of themselves, causes an increased risk for many of the diseases that ultimately kill people.
Aren’t things like abuse and sexual assault bad for adults, too?
Yes they are. However, an adult’s brain is much less flexible and less influenced by external events than a child’s brain. Children also have fewer coping mechanisms than adults do to enable them to deal with any and all forms of trauma.
What about a child who is rescued from a very abusive home while very young, doesn’t remember much of the abuse and then goes on to have a happy childhood?
If the child experiences an ACE, they experience it. Even if they have no conscious memory of the event, their body, brain and DNA were still were affected by it. It is certainly better for them to go on and have a happy childhood than an unhappy one- this contributes to resiliency. Therapies can help undo much of the damage. But forgetting the abuse, forgiving the abuser, etc., still doesn’t entirely undo the damage.
I have a high ACE score. Does that mean I should cash in my retirement fund now and enjoy the time I have left?
No. These numbers are statistical averages. Every teenager who commits suicide, for example, cuts many years off the average lifespan of people in the study group. People with high ACE scores can live long lives, especially if they are mindful of self-care.
What about children with high ACE scores? Isn’t it awful to say that a very young child is doomed, completely through no fault of their own?
There is evidence showing that many of the changes that happen in a child’s brain as a result of ACE’s can be largely reversed with appropriate therapies, especially if those therapies are started while the child is still young. This is why health care for children, including mental health care, must always be a priority. Yes, it is absolutely awful to say that a young child is doomed, completely through no fault of their own. That doesn’t mean we can ignore the evidence, as grim as it may be. Rather, it shows why it is so important that we work together to stop abuse.
How many people have each type of  ACE?
  • Emotional Abuse 10.6%
  • Physical Abuse 28.3%
  • Sexual Abuse 20.7%
  • Emotional Neglect 14.8%
  • Mother Treated Violently 12,7%
  • Household Substance Abuse 26.9%
  • Household Mental Illness 19.4%
  • Parental Separation or Divorce 23.3%
  • Incarcerated Household Member 4.7%
How many people have each ACE score?
  • Number of people with an ACE of 0 36.1%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 1 26%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 2 15.9%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 3 9.5%
  • Number of people with an ACE score of 4 or more 12.5%

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