Racism is an Adverse Childhood Experience

“Despite clear evidence acknowledging racism as a major life stressor for Black youth, theoretical models of early childhood adversity have largely neglected the multifaceted influence of racism on mental health outcomes.” 


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) lead to increased health risks, mental health concerns, and other issues. In the United States, Black youth are more likely to report multiple ACEs than their white peers.

New research explores the impact of racism on the experience of trauma, mental health, and health disparities among Black youth. This report proposes expanding the ACEs framework to consider the effects of racism on Black youth’s long-term health outcomes.

The culturally-informed ACEs model seeks to include racism as an ACE, a factor in increased exposure to ACEs, and a risk factor for long-term negative outcomes. This is an essential step toward more equitable practices for treating childhood trauma.

As the United States continues to deal with the impact of historical and systemic racism, we must not forget to address the lasting, personal toll racism takes on people of color.

Read more in The Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma.