Self-reported adverse childhood experiences and quality of life among children in the two last grades of Dutch elementary education


© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Background: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) may have a life-long impact on mental health and are related to physical disease, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. Research on ACEs suffers from recall bias when performed with adults. Objective: To estimate the prevalence of ACEs and the interrelationships between ACEs as reported by children, and to determine the impact on their self-reported quality of life (QoL). Children’s opinions on the ACE-Questionnaire were also obtained. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted with a child version of the ACE-Questionnaire. This questionnaire assesses parental separation or divorce, physical and emotional child abuse and neglect, sexual violence, domestic violence, household substance abuse, psychological issues or suicide, and incarceration of a household member. QoL was measured with the Kidscreen-10. Participants and setting: The questionnaire was completed by 644 children at a mean age of 11 years (range 9–13 years), in the two last grades of regular elementary schools, recruited throughout the Netherlands. Results: Data were weighted by ethnicity to obtain a representative sample of children in Dutch elementary education. Of all children, 45.3% had one or more out of ten ACEs. Child maltreatment was experienced by 26.4%. ACEs often co-occurred. A higher number of ACEs correlated with a lower mean level of QoL (p < 0.001). Mean QoL was 8.5 points lower (Cohen’s d = 0.8) in children who experienced child maltreatment. Children’s opinions on the questionnaire were positive in 82.4%. Conclusion: Prevention of ACEs, professional training and trauma-focus in schools are urgently needed.

Child Abuse and Neglect