Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 April 2019
This article critically reviews the foundational studies carried out by Felitti in the US and Bellis in the UK and their colleagues examining the relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and adult health and morbidity. These studies have paved the way for much research on childhood adversity and its impact on child development and brain functioning at a family level. ACEs have gained traction in the UK in terms of policy targeting dysfunctional families through early intervention to stop the intergenerational effects of adverse childhood experiences. This article questions the foundational research that argues for family-level, parent-based intervention, especially in light of substantial evidence about the biological embedding of poverty and the direct links between disadvantage and child development. It also hopes to raise awareness about the contested nature of ACEs and their growing influence on family policy.