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The Association Between Expanded ACEs and Behavioral Health Outcomes Among Youth at First Time Legal System Contact

  • Folk, Johanna B
  • Ramaiya, Megan
  • Holloway, Evan
  • Ramos, Lili
  • Marshall, Brandon DL
  • Kemp, Kathleen
  • Li, Yu
  • Bath, Eraka
  • Mitchell, Daphne Koinis
  • Tolou-Shams, Marina
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2023
eScholarship - University of California
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A growing body of literature has documented high rates of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their effects on behavioral health among adolescents impacted by the juvenile legal system. Most research with justice-impacted youth assesses the ten standard ACEs, encompassing abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. This body of work has largely ignored the five expanded ACEs which assess social and community level adversity. Justice-impacted youth commonly experience expanded ACEs (racial discrimination, placement in foster care, living in a disadvantaged neighborhood, witnessing violence, bullying), and inclusion of these adversities may enhance predictive utility of the commonly used ACEs score. The current study examined the prospective impact of total ACEs (standard and expanded) on alcohol and cannabis use, substance-related consequences, and psychiatric symptoms during the year following first ever contact with the juvenile court. Results indicate justice-impacted youth experience multiple expanded ACEs prior to first court contact. The expanded ACEs did not predict any of the behavioral health outcomes assessed, over and above the standard ACEs. Inclusion of expanded ACEs in the standard ACEs score may not increase utility in identifying prospective behavioral health outcomes among youth in first time contact with the juvenile legal system.

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