Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

All the ACEs: A Chaotic Concept for Family Policy and Decision-Making?

  • Sue White (a1), Rosalind Edwards (a2), Val Gillies (a3) and David Wastell (a4)

Abstract

This article will consider Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) as a chaotic concept that prioritises risk and obscures the material and social conditions of the lives of its objects. It will show how the various definitions of ACEs offer no cohesive body of definitive evidence and measurement, and lead to a great deal of over-claiming. It discusses how ACEs have found their time and place, locating a variety of social ills within the child’s home, family and parenting behaviours. It argues that because ACEs are confined to intra-familial circumstances, and largely to narrow parent-child relations, issues outside of parental control are not addressed. It concludes that ACEs form a poor body of evidence for family policy and decision-making about child protection and that different and less stigmatising solutions are hiding in plain sight.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Bales, S. N. (2004) Making the Public Case for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, Washington, DC: FrameWorks Institute.
Bellis, M. A., Lowey, H., Leckenby, N., Hughes, K. and Harrison, D. (2014) ‘Adverse childhood experiences: retrospective study to determine their impact on adult health behaviours and health outcomes in a UK population’, Journal of Public Health, 36, 1, 8191.
Bellis, M., Hughes, K., Hardcastle, K., Ashton, K., Ford, K., Quigg, Z. and Davies, A. (2017) ‘The impact of adverse childhood experiences on health service use across the life course using a retrospective cohort study’, Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, 22, 3, 168–77, doi: 10.1177/1355819617706720.
Boardman, J., Dogra, N. and Hindley, P. (2015) ‘Mental health and poverty in the UK– time for change?’, BJPsych International, 12, 2, 27–8.
Broadhurst, K., Alrouh, B., Mason, C., Ward, H., Holmes, L., Ryan, M. and Bowyer, S. (2018) Born into Care: Newborn Babies Subject to Care Proceedings in England, The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory: Nuffield Foundation, London.
Bonell, C., Jamal, F., Melendez-Torres, G. J. and Cummins, S. (2014) “Dark logic’: theorising the harmful consequences of public health interventions’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 69, 95–8.
Broer, T. and Pickersgill, M. (2015) ‘(Low) Expectations, legitimization, and the contingent uses of scientific knowledge: engagements with neuroscience in Scottish social policy and services’, Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, 1, 4766.
Bruer, J. T. (1999) The Myth of the First Three Years, New York: Free Press.
Bywaters, P. (2015) ‘Inequalities in child welfare: towards a new policy, research and action agenda’, British Journal of Social Work, 45, 1, 623.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (2017) Households Below Average Income, 1994/95-2015/16, Table 4.14ts.
Couper, S. and Mackie, P. (2016) ‘Polishing the Diamonds’ Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences in Scotland, Scottish Public Health Network, https://www.scotphn.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016_05_26-ACE-Report-Final-AF.pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Coyne, J. C. (2017) ‘In a classic study of early childhood abuse and neglect, effects on later mental health nearly disappeared when ….’ https://www.coyneoftherealm.com/blogs/mind-the-brain/tagged/ace [accessed 17.02.2019].
Fahmy, E., Williamson, E. and Pantazis, C. (2016) Evidence and Policy Review: Domestic Violence and Poverty, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, https://research-information.bristol.ac.uk/files/128551400/JRF_DV_POVERTY_REPORT_FINAL_COPY_.pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Featherstone, B., Gupta, A., Morris, K. and White, S. (2018) Protecting Children: A Social Model, Bristol: Policy Press.
Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., Koss, M. P. and Marks, J. S. (1998) ‘Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14, 4, 245–58.
Finkelhor, D. (2017) ‘Screening for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs): cautions and suggestions’, Child Abuse and Neglect, 85, 174–9.
Gillies, V., Edwards, R. and Horsley, N. (2017) Challenging the Politics of Early Intervention: Who’s ‘Saving’ Children and Why?, Bristol: Policy Press.
Gordon, D. (2011) Consultation Response; Social Mobility & Child Poverty Review, Policy Response Series No. 2, http://www.poverty.ac.uk/sites/default/files/attachments/WP%20Policy%20Response%20No.%202%20Consultation%20Resp%20Social%20Mobility%20%26%20Child%20Poverty%20%28Gordon%20Oct%202011%29.pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Hagen-Zanker, J., Bastagli, F., Harman, L., Barca, V., Sturge, G. and Schmidt, T. (2016) ‘Understanding the impact of cash transfers: the evidence’, ODI Briefing, London: Overseas Development Institute.
Hartas, D. (2019) ‘Assessing foundational studies on adverse childhood experiences’, Social Policy and Society, doi: 10.1017/S1474746419000034.
Harold, G. T. and Sellers, R. (2018) ‘Annual Research Review: interparental conflict and youth psychopathology: an evidence review and practice focused update’, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59, 4, 374402.
Jerrim, J. and de Vries, R. (2017) ‘The limitations of quantitative social science for informing public policy’, Evidence and Policy, 13, 1, 117–33.
Lambert, M. (2016) ‘In pursuit of “the welfare trait”: recycling deprivation and reproducing depravation in historical context’, People, Place and Policy, 10, 3, 225–38.
Kelly-Irving, M. and Delpierre, C. (2019) ‘A critique of the adverse childhood experiences framework in epidemiology and public health: uses and misuses’, Social Policy and Society, doi: 10.1017/S1474746419000101.
Masten, A. S. (2015) Ordinary Magic: Resilience in Development, New York: Guildford Press.
ONS (2018) Personal Well-Being in the UK: April 2017 to March 2018, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/bulletins/measuringnationalwellbeing/april2017tomarch2018#main-points [accessed 17.02.2019].
O’Neill, A. (2017) Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2016/17, Statistical Bulletin 17/17, Home Office, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/652136/hate-crime-1617-hosb1717.pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Petrie, I., Ayrton, C. and Tinson, A. (2018) A Quiet Crisis: Local Government Spending on Disadvantage in England, New Policy Institute/Lloyds Bank Foundation: https://www.npi.org.uk/files/7715/3669/7306/A_quiet_crisis_final.pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Public Health Wales (2015) Adverse Childhood Experiences and their Impact on Health-Harming Behaviours in the Welsh Adult Population, http://www2.nphs.wales.nhs.uk:8080/PRIDDocs.nsf/7c21215d6d0c613e80256f490030c05a/d488a3852491bc1d80257f370038919e/$FILE/ACE%20Report%20FINAL%20(E).pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Reuben, A., Moffit, T. E., Caspi, A., Belsky, D. W., Harrington, H., Schroeder, F., Hogan, S., Ramrakha, S., Poulton, R. and Danese, A. (2016) ‘Lest we forget: comparing retrospective and prospective assessments of adverse childhood experiences in the prediction of adult health’, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57, 10, 1103–12.
Rutter, M., Sonuga-Barke, E. J., Beckett, C., Castle, J., Kreppner, J., Kumsta, R., Schlotz, W., Stevens, S. E. and Bell, C. A. (2010) Deprivation-Specific Psychological Patterns: Effects of Institutional Deprivation, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Ann Arbor MI: Society for Research in Child Development, 75.
Sayer, A. (2010) Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach (2nd edn), Abingdon: Routledge.
Shonkoff, J. P. and Bales, S. (2011) ‘Science does not speak for itself: translating child development research for the public and its policymakers’, Child Development, January/February, 82, 1, 1732.
Stevens, A. (2011) ‘Telling policy stories: an ethnographic study of the use of evidence in policy-making in the UK’, Journal of Social Policy, 40, 2, 237–55.
Stock, L., Corlyon, J., Castellanos Serrano, C. and Gieve, M (2014) Personal Relationships and Poverty An Evidence and Policy Review, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, http://www.tavinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Personal-Relationship-and-Poverty-Final-Report.pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Wade, R. Jr Becker, B. D. Bevans, K. B. Ford, D. C. Forrest, C. B. (2017) ‘Development and evaluation of a short adverse childhood experiences measure’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 52, 2, 163–72.
Wastell, D. and White, S. (2017) Blinded by Science: Social Implications of Neuroscience and Epigenetics, Bristol: Policy Press.
Willems, J. C. M. (2012) ‘It takes a SMECC to raise a child: meeting basic developmental needs of newborn persons: principles and promises in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities’, https://cris.maastrichtuniversity.nl/portal/files/15464004/willems_ittakes_.pdf [accessed 17.02.2019].
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Social Policy and Society
  • ISSN: 1474-7464
  • EISSN: 1475-3073
  • URL: /core/journals/social-policy-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed