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ACEs, places and inequality: Understanding the effects of adverse childhood experiences and poverty on offending in childhood

Over the last three decades, an extensive body of research evidence has emerged on the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and a range of negative outcomes, including offending. Using data from the longitudinal Growing Up in Scotland survey, this paper investigates how both ACEs and material deprivation influence the risk of child offending at age 12. The analysis uses a series of binary logistic regression models to show that while the simple number of ACEs is a strong predictor of child offending, that the type of experience is also important, and that parental maltreatment is particularly significant. The analysis also shows that there are complex interactions between poverty and ACEs, and that persistent poverty at the neighbourhood level also acts as a key predictor of childhood offending.

Policy implications

Overall, the results suggest the need for an ACEs and Places agenda: for universal services to support all children who experience parental maltreatment, and for policies that mitigate the adverse effects of living in deprived areas.

For further information contact Dr Kath Murray