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The Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) in the Lives of Juvenile Offenders

The study of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their negative repercussion on adult health outcomes is well documented. In a population of insured Californians, a dose-response relationship has been demonstrated among 10 ACEs and a host of chronic physical health, mental health, and behavioral outcomes. Less widely studied is the prevalence of these ACEs in the lives of juvenile offenders, and the effect of ACEs on children. This study examines the prevalence of ACEs in a population of 64,329 juvenile offenders in Florida. This article reports the prevalence of each ACE and assigns an ACE composite score across genders and a risk to reoffend level classification, and compares these with ACE studies conducted on adults. Analyses indicate offenders report disturbingly high rates of ACEs and have higher composite scores than previously examined populations. Policy implications underline the need to screen for and address ACEs as early as possible to prevent reoffending and other well-documented sequelae.