Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences

According to an article published by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), research now shows that divorce or separation from a parent or guardian is one of the top two most adverse childhood experiences nationally. And which parent is the one a child is least likely to live with after divorce or another type of separation? That’s right. It is Dad.

According to the article, “An ‘adverse childhood experience’ (ACE) is an experience or event in a child’s life that creates trauma and, accordingly, leads to a negative outcome during childhood or later in life.” If a child experiences one ACE, it is likely that they will experience multiple. Research shows that 1 in 10 children experience three or more ACE’s throughout childhood.

Child Trends recently analyzed national data to identify the prevalence of ACEs nationally and in each state. The data found that nearly half of all US children have had an ACE. The data also showed that along with being separated from a parent by divorce or another factor (e.g. having an incarcerated parent), economic hardship is the other most prevalent ACE. According to NFI, father absence also plays a role in economic hardship. Children in single-parent homes are more likely to live in poverty.

Combating ACE and the negative outcomes of a child requires a steady, supportive relationship with a caregiver, such as an involved, responsible, committed dad. Helping and mentoring fathers can prevent parental separation and help in the healing that comes after separation has taken place.

Learn more about the prevalence of ACE’s in your state by downloading the Child Trends’ report HERE.