Change Indicator

ACE: Adverse Childhood Experience prevalence by race and ethnicity in South Carolina

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Why This Indicator Matters

Drs. Robert Anda and Vincent Felitti studied the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) on a number of health behaviors and found that higher ACE total scores were related to a greater occurrence of health problems (Felitti et al., 1998).
Research indicates that ACEs are more common in low-income families and among certain racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States (Slopen et al., 2016). Enduring barriers to social and economic opportunity on the basis of race (e.g. hiring discrimination, predatory lending and segregated schooling) may drive these disparities by increasing the likelihood of family circumstances that produce ACEs.

The good news is that what's predictable is preventable. The first step in preventing ACEs is understanding what they are. 

Please contact [email protected] if you are interested in receiving a copy of the full data set.
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Definition and Source



ACE data are collected via the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) managed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The BRFSS is a cross-sectional, telephone-based survey of health-related risk behaviors, history of chronic health conditions, and preventative behaviors. Non-institutionalized adults 18 years or older are randomly selected to take part in the survey. The survey is conducted year-round using random digit dialing (RDD) techniques on both landlines and cell phones. Children’s Trust collected the data through the BRFSS with funds provided through the community-based child abuse prevention funds (2014 and 2015) and the BlueCross BlueShield Foundation of South Carolina (2016-2018.)

Ace Type Survey Item(s)
Household Mental Illness Did you live with anyone who was depressed, mentally ill, or suicidal?
Household Substance Use Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic?
Did you live with anyone who used illegal street drugs or abused prescription medications?
Household Incarceration Did you live with anyone who served time or was sentenced to serve time in a prison, jail, or other correctional facility?
Parental Separation/Divorce Were your parents separated or divorced?
Household Domestic Violence How often did your parents or adults in your home ever slap, hit, kick, punch, or beat each other up?
Physical Abuse How often did a parent or adult in your home ever hit, beat, kick, or physically hurt you in any way?  Do not include spanking.
Emotional Abuse How often did a parent or adult in your home ever swear at you, insult you, or put you down?
Sexual Abuse How often did anyone at least 5 years older than you or an adult ever touch you sexually?
 or     try to make you touch them sexually?
 or     force you to have sex?

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014-2016.


Note: All percentages may not total to 100% due to weighting. 

Last updated January 2019.

Last Updated

April 2021