Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma

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

ACEs policy background

The term ‘adverse childhood experiences’ (ACEs) was first used in a survey carried out in the US in the 1990s. Since then, numerous ACEs studies have been conducted in many countries.

We made a commitment in our Programme for Government 2017-2018 to prevent and mitigate ACEs and to support the resilience of children and adults negatively affected. We built on this commitment in our Programme for Government 2018-2019, setting out four key areas for action on ACEs and reiterating these in our Programme for Government 2019-2020. These four key areas for action were: 

  • 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, supported by the National Trauma Training Programme
  • raise societal awareness about ACEs and support action across communities

These areas for action were anchored in our commitments to children’s rights, tackling child poverty, the long-standing national approach of Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) and better supporting adults affected by adversity and trauma.  

In our Programmes for Government for 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022, we set out further commitments to:

Preventing ACEs and reducing the negative impacts of adversity and trauma contribute to a wide range of the national outcomes set out in the National Performance Framework, especially the outcomes 'we grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential' and ‘we are healthy and active’.

Related policy areas



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

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