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Abuse and Traumas

The unique nature of adolescence means that young people experiencing abuse and trauma in this phase of life may have different needs to younger children or adults.

One in five people experiences at least one form of child abuse before the age of 16

Adverse childhood experiences

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful events that occur in childhood and that may contribute to later health outcomes. They include many of the issues presented above already, including being a victim of abuse. In their review of the impact of ACEs on health, Hughes et al (2017) found the ACEs that had been most studied included childhood physical abuse, household substance abuse, childhood sexual abuse, household mental illness, exposure to domestic violence, or emotional, psychological or verbal abuse.

I in 7 adults have at least one adverse childhood experience before the age of 16The longterm effects of adverse childhood experiences such as these have been studied for some time, and there is growing evidence to show impacts on both physical and mental health as an adult. Individuals with at least four ACEs in childhood have been shown to be at particular risk of certain health behviours such as problematic alcohol use, and of later health outcomes such as mental ill health and suicide (Hughes et al, 2017). In a study undertaken with 7,414 adults in England and Wales, Bellis et al (2017) reported that for those now aged 18-29, people with four or more ACEs in childhood were three times more likely to have seen the GP recently, and more than twice as likely to have been to the accident and emergency department or had an overnight stay in hospital. These outcomes may be measures of increased health needs.

ACEs as a framework are not without their problems (Lacey & Minis, 2020) both in collecting data and interpreting them or using them to better support young people as individuals. Work is now being done to look closely at the frameworks and how they can be better used to frame interventions that have a measurable and significant impact on outcomes for children and young people throughout the life course (Asmussen and McBride, 2021).

All data correct as of 1st November 2021