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Why is Prevention Science so Important?

During the early years of life, a child’s brain grows fast. Nearly a million neural connections are produced each second. This brain development is also shaped by the experiences that children have during these years. This includes factors such as proper nutrition, social supports, family stability, and much more. It also includes exposure to negative impacts, or adverse childhood experiences.

The socioeconomic determinants of health are largely responsible for health disparities and inequities. Evidence shows that preventive interventions can have profound, measurable, and long-lasting effects on the health outcomes of children and youth. This includes behavioral health outcomes.

Special Topics: Racism

The Mental Health Effects of Racism

When someone encounters a stressful situation, their body gets ready to respond. Their heart starts racing, blood pressure increases and their breathing speeds up as their body releases stress...

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COVID-19: Special Topics | Trauma and Bias

The Physician’s Role in Reducing the Impact of Trauma and Bias. Hopefully, at least one of the reasons you became a primary care provider (PCP) is a desire to assist patients with all aspects of...

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COVID-19: Special Topics | Racism is Toxic for Children

In This Tumultuous Year: Racism is Toxic for Children In this tumultuous year, our country has been faced with a health crisis that has forced us to change the way we go about our daily lives and has...

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Supporting Children and Families Impacted by Trauma

Resources on how to cope with trauma and build resilience.

Special Topics: Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

There is a growing body of research on the profound impact that conditions like abuse, neglect, danger, and loss have on children. Especially those from underserved or at-risk families. Research shows a strong link between ACEs and a wide range of physical and mental health problems across the life span.

Current and emerging research helps us understand the effects of ACEs and toxic stress on the body. This can increase risk for health problems, including chronic disease, mental illness, and obesity. ACEs include poor education, abuse/neglect, unemployment and job insecurity, poverty, food insecurity, housing instability, adverse environmental conditions, and limited access to health care.



Percent of U.S. children experience at least one ACE (CDC)


Percent of U.S. children experience three or more ACEs (CDC)


Percent of low income families experience at least one food insecurity – one in six US children (USDA)


40+ Diseases

Dose-response relationship confirmed between ACEs and more than forty medical conditions (CDC)


Percent of abused/neglected children will develop a psychiatric disorder (CDC)


Increase in risk of overall psychiatric impairment in children from food insecure families*

*Murphy, et al 1998, Relationship between hunger and psychosocial functioning in low income American children

Subsequent ACEs Studies

Adapted and Expanded ACE Surveys

A list of adapted and expanded ACE surveys to include other types of childhood adversity such as racism, witnessing violence outside of the home, bullying, and involvement with the foster care system.

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Beyond the ACE Score

More Information About ACEs

Where Can I Learn More About Prevention Science?

The Care Model for (CPM) for Pediatric Traumatic Stress

A brief screening and response protocol guiding the identification of, and response to, traumatic stress in children seen in healthcare and other pediatric settings.

Pediatric ACEs and Related Life-events Screener (PEARLS)

A questionnaire to screen for ACEs and assist in assessing increased health risk due to a toxic stress response.

Safe environment for Every Kid (SEEK) for 0-5

A practical and evidence-based approach to help address targeted social determinants of health that are also risk factors for child maltreatment.

Diagnosis of Traumatic Stress in Pediatric Patients

A care process model that provides best practice recommendations for the prevention of childhood trauma, and the identification and management of pediatric traumatic stress in primary care.

Bright Futures

An American Academy of Pediatrics program dedicated to prevention and health promotion through dissemination of guidelines and resources to primary care providers, families, community organizations, and state partners.

Harvard University Center on the Developing Child

A multidisciplinary team committed to driving science-based innovation in policy and practice to achieve breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity.

Healthy Families New York

A New York State Office of Children and Family Services program, this is an evidence-based voluntary home visiting model that seeks to improve the health and well-being of infants and children.

Reach Out and Read

A nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care, and encouraging families to read aloud together.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – “Are the Children Well?”

A report that offers a model and recommendations for promoting the mental wellness of young people, through evidence-based strategies and a focus on wellness.

Prevention Science journal

The official journal of prevention science for the Society for Prevention Research.

The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment

A non-profit organization dedicated to the study and prevention of violence through education, community service, research support and consultation.

The National Academies of Sciences – Health and Medicine Division: “Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities”

A report intended to increase interest in prevention practices that can impede the onset or reduce the severity of mental health and substance use disorders among children, youth, and young adults.


A comprehensive mental health plan for New York City, including resources and Mental Health First Aid trainings.

Trauma Toolbox for Primary Care

A six-part series designed to provide primary care physicians with the tools to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) with patients and their families. – “Promotion and Prevention”

A U.S. government website focused on effective youth programs that defines and considers a variety of promotion and prevention interventions for positive youth mental health outcomes.

Zero to Three Network

Promotes the optimal development of young children, their families, and their communities in the New York metropolitan area.