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Experiencing and Moderating the Effect of ACEs Across Child, Parent, Family, and Neighborhood Levels

A new paper in the Journal of Family Issues explores Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with a recognition that existing research on ACEs can be overly focused on the experiences of middle-class white children. In response, the author uses data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) dataset, which contains information from more than 1,000 racially, ethnically, and income diverse children and families in five research sites across the U.S. (Baltimore, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, and North Carolina) between 1991 and 2012. Using number of adversities between ages four and 16 to predict behavior problems like aggression and delinquency, the author links greater adversities to greater behavioral problems, finding too that parent-level adversities like alcoholism, depression, domestic violence, and unemployment have the strongest effect. The author also finds that greater levels of family support (“help” from family members) dampens the effect of adversities, concluding that family social capital can help offset the effects even for those experiencing the greatest adversities.