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Adverse Childhood Experiences and Their Impact on Tribal Communities

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2020
6 pages

This article examines research on adverse childhood experiences and their impacts on the general population before focusing in, more specifically, on their impacts on the American Indian/Alaska Native population; it describes strategies to strengthen protective factors that can buffer against those impacts and reduce their negative, long-term impacts on tribal communities.


This article provides an introduction to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and its impacts on general society and, more specifically, focuses on the impacts of ACEs on American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) populations, which have experienced historical and intergenerational trauma, and which, as a result, has seen increased exposure to problematic social conditions such as poverty, low graduation rates, high rates of unemployment, and limited or inadequate medical care. The article describes how ACEs have impacted tribal communities. It also describes some protective or buffering strategies are to reduce the impact of ACEs, such as: safe, stable, and nurturing environments; social support and connectedness; trauma-informed services; social-emotional learning; spiritual practices and cultural involvement; and more. It notes that those strategies are directed toward children, parents, and tribal communities, and are also useful when addressing the interplay between ACEs and substance use; and suggests that creating trauma-informed services and conducting ACEs screening or violence screening in medical settings can help to develop and sustain resilient communities.