Defending what matters about private and public life

ACE Sceptics

This page has been set up to gather together writing and comments from people sceptical of the current fad for  ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ approaches. Items will be added if tweeted to me @JanMacvarish or add a comment below.

To kick things off, here is the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies webpage containing some critical responses to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s Inquiry into Early Intervention and ACEs.

ACEs: ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’

In December 2017, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee launched an Inquiry into the evidence-base for early years intervention, with a particular focus on programmes influenced by the concept of ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ or ACEs.

CPCS associates and social policy specialists from a number of universities were concerned that the inquiry’s remit was open to considering contributions that were more circumspect about the ACEs approach. Professor Rosalind Edwards, University of Southampton; Professor Val Gillies, University of Westminster; Professor Ellie Lee and Dr Jan Macvarish, University of Kent; Professor Susan White, University of Sheffield and Professor David Wastell, University of Nottingham therefore collaborated to produce a submission which sets out some grounds on which the claims made about ACEs might be questioned.


The Inquiry has now published its report. 


“Professor Rosalind Edwards of the University of Southampton warned us that from a methodological point of view, considering ACEs together was a “chaotic concept”’.

“the simplicity of this framework and the non-deterministic impact of ACEs mean that it should not be used to guide the support offered to specific individuals.”

‘The Academy of Medical Sciences similarly noted that “it is not always clear where the line is drawn between normative stress experiences and ACEs”

“Limitations to this framework are not always fully understood by those trying to apply ACEs to their work with children.”

“This had led to ACEs research being misapplied in practice, and we have encountered the ACE framework currently being used inappropriately.” Early Intervention Foundation


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