Exploring the Systemic Causes of Adverse Childhood Experiences

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Childhood and Youth Studies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 1053

Special Issue Editor

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Guest Editor
School of Social Work, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816, USA
Interests: participatory action research; digital storytelling; minoritized youth; economic disadvantage; under-resourced communities

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs; child maltreatment, household dysfunction) occur in children across all races/ethnicities and income levels. However, minoritized children (e.g., black, Indigenous, and people of color/global majority) often cope with additional adversities within their social ecologies due to systemic inequality. Most research on ACEs has focused on micro-level factors within a child’s family (e.g., parental divorce and child abuse). Additionally, research on ACEs generally consists of the prevalence of ACEs and/or considers ACEs as predictors, most commonly of behavioral health indicators, with limited attention given to environmental causes. Although studies on ACEs have expanded to examine how children interact with their environments, research addressing upstream factors (i.e., system inequality) that raise the risk for ACEs among children is limited. We need to expand the research on the causes of ACEs (e.g., racism, neighborhood violence, and poverty) and go beyond studies on the effects of ACEs on a person. We must explore the salience of place and why higher-risk conditions exist and address the drivers of inequities that increase the risk of ACEs.

We are interested in research that examines how systemic inequality impacts children’s lives to better understand the relationship among the access to resources, high-risk environments, and ACEs. Examples may include experiences of discrimination, exposure to natural disasters, financial hardship, residential instability, forced migration, exposure to victimization, or witnessing violence outside the home. Additionally, probing the broader geographic location (i.e., the socioeconomic and political context) is encouraged. Most ACE research has recruited samples from the U.S., followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. We encourage the recruitment of samples from countries other than these to expand our understanding of the range of adversities experienced by children globally (e.g., war refugee experiences). In doing so, we aim to expand our knowledge of the social ecology and states of health and well-being of children in other countries.

Please submit your proposals and any questions to special issue guest editor Kim Anderson <> by 29 February 2024. Notification of acceptance will be provided by 15 March 2024. Final papers are due on 30 June 2024 for peer review.

Proposals should be one page in length and include a title, an abstract explaining its relevance to the Special Issue topic, a description of the population, and the methods used (if applicable). Also include author names and affiliations.

Prof. Dr. Kim Anderson
Guest Editor

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  • adverse childhood experiences
  • ACEs
  • childhood adversity
  • minoritized populations
  • systemic inequality
  • social inequities

Published Papers (1 paper)

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22 pages, 630 KiB  
The Mediating Effect of Post-Traumatic Growth on the Relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychological Distress in Adults
by Sara Caetano and Henrique Pereira
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(5), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13050262 - 13 May 2024
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Background: Research has shown that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are prevalent and are associated with psychological distress. Some studies indicate facing these adversities can lead to post-traumatic growth. This study aims to assess the impact of ACEs on psychological distress and post-traumatic growth [...] Read more.
Background: Research has shown that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are prevalent and are associated with psychological distress. Some studies indicate facing these adversities can lead to post-traumatic growth. This study aims to assess the impact of ACEs on psychological distress and post-traumatic growth and to determine the mediating effect of post-traumatic growth between ACEs and psychological distress, in a sample of adults. Methods: In this study, there were 521 participants (mean = 31.32, SD = 12.28), who answered the following surveys online: a sociodemographic questionnaire, the Family ACE Questionnaire, the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) and the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). Results: ACEs were positive and significant predictors of psychological distress, and the “Change in the perception of the self and life in general” factor of post-traumatic growth was the strongest predictor of lower perceived psychological distress. Post-traumatic growth did not mediate the relationship between ACEs and psychological distress. Conclusions: These findings contribute to the improvement of clinical practice and health policies and highlight the need for a more in-depth understanding of the impact of ACEs on mental health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Systemic Causes of Adverse Childhood Experiences)
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