Adverse Childhood Experiences

What are adverse childhood experiences?

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). For example:

  • experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
  • witnessing violence in the home or community
  • having a family member attempt or die by suicide

Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding, such as growing up in a household with:

  • substance use problems
  • mental health problems
  • instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison
Please note the examples above are not a complete list of adverse experiences. Many other traumatic experiences could impact health and well-being, such as not having enough food to eat, experiencing homelessness or unstable housing, or experiencing discrimination.


**Source of Information:  Commonwealth of Massachusetts;

Every parent, caregiver, and member of a child’s community has the power to provide positive experiences. Positive childhood experiences (PCEs) are activities that support a child’s physical, mental, social, and emotional health and well-being. There are many ways that adults can promote PCEs in children’s lives, including building strong and meaningful relationships, engaging in fun activities together, and making them feel safe and nurtured at home and in their community.  


Get Your Aces Score

Empowering communities to prevent childhood adversity

Know. Learn. Plan. Advocate.

Why is this important?

This data profile shows the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for adults in Barnwell County. An adult could have experienced one or more ACE throughout their childhood.

ACEs are serious childhood traumas that result in toxic stress, which can harm a child’s brain and development. Toxic stress may prevent a child from learning, playing in a healthy way with other children, and can result in long term health problems. ACEs are common in South Carolina, which puts our population at risk for many poor health and social
outcomes. We have the power to prevent this from happening.

The data in this county profile provides a snapshot of the different outcomes ACEs are associated with, and can be used as a tool to empower action in our communities.

What can you do?

  • Collaborate with your community to make data-driven decisions using this profile, including when developing a plan for action to address ACEs.
  • Educate by raising community awareness about these statistics.
  • Advocate by using this profile for grant writing, policy statements, and presentations to key policy stakeholders in your community.

How can you learn more?

Children’s Trust can assist you and your community in your efforts to prevent the negative consequences of ACEs:

  • Hold an ACE training
  • Screen the films Paper Tigers or Resilience
  • Have a community conversation
  • Review ACE questions and research
Where does the data come from? South Carolina’s ACE data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) which is a national health survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The BRFSS is a phone-based survey that asks residents of South Carolina older than 18 to answer questions about a wide variety of health and social conditions. In 2014, Children’s Trust of South Carolina partnered with South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (S.C. DHEC) to collect data from South Carolina adults on exposure to ACEs. ACE types assessed:
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Household substance use Incarceration
  • Parental divorce/separation
  • Domestic violence
Responses to ACE questions only indicate whether a participant has experienced a particular ACE, not how severe or frequently it occurred. ACEs and other BRFSS data are weighted to be representative of the South Carolina adult population. This means that the data presented in profile is representative of the adult population within that county, which is important to consider when drawing conclusions about the data.