Publication - Factsheet

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma

Our work to prevent and reduce the negative impact of childhood adversity and trauma.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma
ACEs policy background

ACEs policy background

The term adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) was originally developed from a survey carried out in the US in the 1990s. There have been numerous ACE studies undertaken across many countries since.

We made a commitment in our 2017 to 2018 Programme for Government to prevent and mitigate ACEs and to support the resilience of children and adults affected. This commitment is anchored in our long-standing national approach of Getting It Right For Every Child, and about better supporting adults affected by childhood adversity.

The 2018 to 2019 Programme for Government built on this commitment, and set out four areas for action on ACES which are to:

  • support parents, families and children to prevent ACEs 
  • mitigate the negative impact of ACEs for children and young people
  • develop adversity and trauma-informed workforce and services
  • raise wider awareness about ACEs and support action across communities

The  2019 to 2020 Programme for Government reiterated our commitment to these four areas of action and the connections to other key commitments including on children’s rights and tackling child poverty. The 2020/21 PfG further set out commitments to progressing children’s rights (UNCRC incorporation), tackling child poverty, fulfilling the Independent Care Review (The Promise), supporting families, and the expansion of the National Trauma Training Programme.”

Preventing childhood adversity and reducing the negative impacts of ACEs contributes to a wide range of the national outcomes set out  in the National Performance Framework, and is particularly aligned to the national outcome that 'we grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential'.

See: Programme for Government collection

Related information



Trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Resilience Unit
Mental Health Division
Directorate for Mental Wellbeing & Social Care
Scottish Government
3ER - St. Andrew's House
Regent Road