Prolonged, severe or repetitive adversity may lead to toxic stress which is detrimental to a child’s development if not buffered by nurturing and supportive relationships with caregivers. While Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are currently one of the most aligned indicators used to measure exposure to toxic stress and childhood adversity, the data do not tell the whole story, especially in young children. Data on ‘flourishing children’ is often paired with the ACEs indicator data as a proxy measure for resilience. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education and job opportunities. ACEs are preventable. Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full potential [1].

In Vermont, children are exposed to ACEs at a similar rate to children nationally with more than one third of children under 9 experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience [2]. The four most common ACEs in Vermont are living in a home where it is hard to cover basic needs, experiencing the divorce of a parent or guardian, living with someone with substance use disorder, and living with someone who has a severe mental health challenge [3].

Additional information on Vermont’s approach to trauma prevention and resilience development is available on the Trauma Prevention and Resilience Development website.

Return to the Table of Contents for the 2019 How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families? report.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences.

2. The United States Census Bureau, National Survey of Children’s Health. 2016, 2017, 2018. Indicator 6.13 and variable K11Q43R in the public data file.
Analyses of the 2016-2018 NSCH multi-year weighted data was conducted by Laurin Kasehagen, MA, PhD, an epidemiology assignee to the Vermont Department of Health.

3. ibid