Last Updated on December 6, 2022
A pdf of the above image is available at https://friendsoftheunsheltered.org/wp-content/uploads/ACE-Homelessness.pdf.
During the March 13, 2023 Seaside City Council meeting Rick Bowers shared this information during the 3-minute public comment period. Here is the link to the meeting (opens in a new window): https://www.youtube.com/live/7tsqVsci1F0?feature=share&t=3972.
Over the past couple of meetings, I, Rick Bowers, have described how unaffordable rent is for low- and fixed-income people and then tied rental prices to homelessness rates and briefly mentioned the lack of housing. Today I would like to talk about some of the folks who get left out in the housing shortage.
Specifically, I want to share some information about Adverse Childhood Experiences, or the ACEs score. This score is the result of a Center for Disease Control and Kaiser study trying to figure out what impacts our long-term health. There is a short quiz that asks participants whether they have experienced any of about 10 different categories of traumas as children. These include:
- Physical, sexual or verbal abuse
- Physical or emotional neglect
- Separation or divorce
- A family member with mental illness
- A family member addicted to drugs or alcohol
- A family member who is in prison
- Witnessing a parent being abused
So what’s the impact of these experiences?
Toxic stress from ACEs can actually affect our brains as we develop. This can have a lasting impact on tools like decision-making and learning. This can impact our adult lives with things like struggling with depression, jobs, and managing life in general. [Higher ACEs impact long-term health issues like asthma, cancer, and diabetes in adulthood.]
Fortunately, most of us have a low number of ACEs. On a bar chart, the tallest bar is those of us having zero ACEs. I’m in that group. Those with one ACEs is a smaller group; two smaller still;… and keeps shrinking until very few of us in the general population have a score of eight Adverse Childhood Experiences.
A study in Washington state gave the “ACEs quiz” to about 6,000 residents and added an additional question asking whether they had ever been homeless. As expected, overall, the respondents matched the results I’ve just described. But when the subset of those who had ever experienced homelessness was examined, the results were completely the opposite of the general population… a mirror image. The largest bar of the homeless population was a score of eight Adverse Childhood Experiences. This was followed with the seven bar being somewhat smaller, then the six… and keeps shrinking until very few are in the zero category.
I’m going to repeat myself: Toxic stress from ACEs can actually affect our brains as we develop. This can have a lasting impact on tools like decision-making and learning. This can impact our adult lives with things like struggling with depression, jobs, and managing life in general.
My point… let’s be careful before blaming the victim.
- We may be “created equally” but some of us grow up in toxic environments that can impact us for life.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are just that… traumatic events during childhood. Like having a family member die by suicide; having an alcoholic parent….
- Most of us have very few traumatic events during childhood.
- However, those that experience homelessness tend to have many traumatic events during childhood.
- Toxic stress from ACEs can actually effect our brains as we development. This can have a lasting impact on tools like decision-making and learning. This can impact our adult lives with things like struggling with depression, jobs, and managing life in general.
- What’s your ACE Score? Find out at https://americanspcc.org/take-the-aces-quiz/.
Center for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/