Indicator: Adverse Childhood Experiences
Description: The ACEs module of the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS) asks respondents questions about eight different traumatic childhood experiences that occurred before the age of 18. These include verbal/emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and negative household situations including the incarceration of an adult, alcohol or drug abuse by an adult, violence between adults, mental illness of a household member, and parental divorce or separation. A cumulative ACEs score is calculated for each respondent by counting the number of these items that a respondent reported experiencing, creating a score ranging from 0 to 8.
Data Limitations: The ACEs module is a “lagging” indicator capturing childhood experiences retrospectively by asking adults 18+ years of age. Additional limitations include: 1) relies on self-reported information, 2) provides prevalence, not incidence data, 3) bias or measurement error associated with telephone-administered survey of a sample of the population (e.g., response bias, sampling variation), 4) designed to provide state-level population health estimates and does not provide sub-state estimates or estimates by racial sub-groups (e.g., Asian sub-groups) unless multiple years are combined.
Indicator Source: California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
Indicator Calculation Methodology: 11 questions about ACEs are condensed into an ordinal scale from 0 to 8 possible ACEs. This indicator shows the prevalence of adults who reported having one or more ACEs. Other data cuts are also available, e.g., 3 or more ACEs.
Data Collection Methodology:
CDC BRFSS Data Documentation 2013;BRFSS User Guide June 2013; http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/data_documentation/index.htm
Program URL Link:
1. U.S. Department of Justice . (2014, October 22). Facts about Children and Violence. Retrieved December 24, 2015, from justice.gov: http://www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood/facts-about-children-and-violence
2. Center for Youth Wellness. (n.d.). Findings on Adverse Childhood Experiences in California. Retrieved Decemner 24, 2015, from acestoohigh.files.wordpress.com: http://acestoohigh.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/hiddencrisis_report_1014.pdf
3. California Newsreel. (2015). The Raising of America. Retrieved December 24, 2015, from raisingofamerica.org: http://www.raisingofamerica.org/
4. California Department of Public Health. (2015, November 6). Essentials for Childhood Initiative: Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments. Retrieved Decmber 24, 2015, from cdph.ca.gov: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/ChildMaltreatmentPrevention.aspx