Sunday, January 20, 2019: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Golden Gate 3, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Violence against Women and Children (VAWC)
Sunny Shin, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University
Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as child maltreatment and family dysfunction (e.g., intimate partner violence, incarcerated family members), is highly prevalent. Population-based studies have revealed that population attributable health risks associated with ACEs were 54% for adult depression, 65% for alcoholism, 67% for suicide attempts, and 50% for substance use. While a substantial body of literature has identified consequences of exposure to ACEs, mechanisms linking ACEs to these outcomes remains unclear. Knowledge of these specific mechanisms, is critical for developing social work intervention strategies that increase positive outcomes for individuals with a history of ACEs exposures. This symposium convenes three studies that examine mediating links between ACES exposure and outcomes, specifically academic achievement and substance use. Each study assesses ACEs-related outcomes for a specific developmental period: Study 1, adolescence, Study 2, young adulthood, and Study 3, older adulthood. These studies also explore various developmental links whereby ACEs have putative effects throughout the life course.
The first study examines the effects of ACEs on youth academic achievement. In this study, individual differences in PTSD and depression symptoms were critical factors that mediated the association between ACEs and academic achievement during adolescence. The second study focuses on the relationship between ACEs and substance use during young adulthood; specifically, patterns of ACEs were examined in relation to substance use. This study found that personality traits of impulsivity mediated the relationship of exposure to ACES on drug dependence symptoms, alcohol-related problems, and tobacco use in young adulthood. The third study explored the long-term effects of childhood exposure to violence and family dysfunction on substance use disorder during late adulthood. Findings indicate that depression symptoms and adult economic hardship serve as mediators of the relationship of ACEs and substance use disorder for older adults. Together, these three papers further our understanding of the potentially devastating effects of childhood exposure to violence and adversity on the course of an individual's life. The symposium also offers insight into developmental mechanisms that link ACEs to poor behavioral and social outcomes, and the opportunity to discuss implications for prevention and intervention in social work practice, policy, and future research.
* noted as presenting author