Bad childhood experiences negatively affect development

A team of researchers has developed a framework for comprehensively addressing the cascade of problems that arise from children’s adverse experiences from birth to age 18. These patterns of damage are consistent. across the continent and culture. The more bad experiences a child has, the greater the damage. In the first research in the early 2000s, bad childhood experiences (ACEs) were surprisingly prevalent, with two-thirds of the 17,000 primarily middle-class people in the United States reporting either one. ACEs are more prevalent in poor communities where there is low income, low education, and greater social marginalization.

Based on years of research, the framework – called the Intergenerational and Cumulative Adverse and Resilient Experiences (ICARE) model – identifies 10 types of ACEs, as well as 10 protective and compensatory experiences (PACEs). building strength.

10 Bad Experiences 10 Protective Experiences

Physical abuse

Emotional abuse

Sexual abuse

Physical neglect

Emotional neglect


Domestic violence

Mental illness at home

Domestic crime

Substance abuse in the household

Unconditional love from caregivers *

I have a bestfriend

Be part of a social group

I have a mentor


Live in a safe and clean home with enough food

Get a good education

There was a fun

Participate in regular physical activity

Have family routines and consistent rules

*This is the most important protection.

The ICARE model also recommends a broad range of interventions that address the many ways in which ACEs impair children’s development. Central to the approach is to support the protective factors already present in families and help families become stronger.

The ICARE model shows the path in which ACEs can harm the future of children and harm the next generation.

Neurobiological and epigenetic effects of ACEs

Prolonged activation of stress responses commonly used in short -term crisis response situations results in biological and neurobiological changes that a child may undergo. The body’s immune system can be damaged, as well as the development of brain structures and function. Epigenetic changes in DNA as a result of stress-the methylation of certain genes that change how they function-embed the effect of ACEs, influencing how a child responds to stress. later in life. Epigenetic changes are inherited, passed from mothers and fathers to their biological offspring.

The ICARE model shows the path in which ACEs can harm the future of children and harm the next generation.

Impacts on the development of ACEs

The most important developmental system in early childhood is connectivity. Safe connectivity develops when an infant’s needs are consistently met, creating a safe and predictable place where caregivers can be trusted. Attachment also has a biological/neurobiological dimension, for example, with the action of the hormones dopamine and oxytocin. ACEs can disrupt intimacy, which is linked to many behavioral, social, and emotional problems later in life.

ACEs can also impair cognitive development. Skills associated with executive function, such as working memory, restraint control, and attention span, can be detrimental to children who experience difficulty. This can lead to learning problems during education and training.

Intergenerational transmission

ACEs can harm the next generation in two ways: Parents affected by ACEs in their own lives are more likely to struggle with parenting. And parents can pass on to their children epigenetic changes that affect a child’s biological response to stress.

Strategies to reduce the negative effects of ACEs

The foundation of the strategic approach proposed by the ICARE model begins with evaluating and mobilizing protective factors that already exist or may exist in the child’s environment. The researchers focused on successful support programs in five categories:

  1. Supporting parents and carers with their own psychological and emotional well-being
  2. Supporting parents and carers with connectivity and parenting skills
  3. Directly support children, for example, by encouraging their participation in games, entertainment, and friendships
  4. Psychological therapies for children responding to past traumas
  5. Game -based therapeutic activities for kids and parents together

The authors of the framework explain that the ICARE model “offers new opportunities to design and implement multilevel prevention and intervention programs in a variety of ways in which adverse and protective experiences can influence results. “

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