A family crisis can harm the healthy psychological and emotional development of a young child. Major life-changing events such as divorce, death, and illness require vigilant parenting to ensure that a young child learns healthy and effective ways to cope with a crisis.
What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?
Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are events that may constitute neglect, abuse, and have the potential to lead to traumatic experiences. ACEs can negatively impact a child’s healthy development by leading to risky health behavior, chronic health conditions, impaired social and life potential, and a shorter lifespan.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, ACEs have been linked to the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Depression and anxiety
- Unintended pregnancy
- Pregnancy complications
- Infectious diseases, such as HIV and STDs
- Chronic health conditions like cancer and diabetes
- Risky behaviors such as substance abuse and unsafe sex
- Difficulties with education, occupation, and income
What are Risk Factors for ACEs?
Certain circumstances lead to an increased risk in ACEs. These circumstances relate to the individual physical and mental health of a child, and the environment in which they live.
Risk factors affecting a child’s chances of exposure to ACEs include:
- Children below the age of 4
- Children with special needs
- Parental misunderstanding or unawareness of their children’s developmental needs
- Parental history of child abuse or neglect
- Exposure to substance abuse
- Social isolation
- Family dysfunction
- Parental stress and negative interactions
- Community violence
- High poverty and adversity in the community
Protective Factors for Preventing and Avoiding ACEs
A protective factor is a circumstance or action that can reduce a child’s risk of experiencing ACEs. Parents should take care to foster the experience of protective factors, and take affirmative steps to facilitate a child’s exposure to protective factors.
Protective factors include:
- Social networks that nurture a supportive environment
- Tangible support for resources related to basic needs
- Nurturing parental skills
- Stable family relationships
- Consistent and reasonable household rules and child monitoring
- Steady parental employment
- Developed parental education
- Adequate shelter, food, and clothing
- Sufficient access to health care and social services
- A community support network for preventing and dealing with ACEs
To learn more about how to prevent child abuse and neglect, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here.
At DiPietro Law Group, our legal team is dedicated to promoting healthy familial interactions and protecting the best interests of children. We have offices conveniently located in Virginia and Maryland. Contact us online or call us at (888) 530-4374 to schedule a consultation today.