Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in school-aged youth: A systematic review (1990–2015)

John S. Carlson, Justina Yohannan, Courtney L. Darr, Matthew R. Turley, Natalie A. Larez, Michelle M. Perfect

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to systematically review the literature on the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in school-aged youth (i.e., ≤ 18 years). Inclusion and exclusion search criteria led to the identification of 96 articles published during a 25-year period. Articles containing international samples (N = 44) and samples from the United States (N = 52) were examined for (a) the nature and prevalence of ACEs, (b) the nature of the samples and populations studied, and (c) the methods used to identify ACEs. Findings are narratively summarized and presented descriptively in tabular form to further assist school professionals in recognizing the diversity of ACEs worldwide and the array of methods used to identify trauma-related events. Prevalence rates vary substantially by the type of ACEs reported and the context or setting in which data were gathered. Yet, almost two thirds of youth experience significant adverse events no matter where they reside across the world, highlighting the need for local ACEs screening and early intervention. Implications for future research include the importance of clarifying ACEs exposure and measures used to quantify such events to allow for future aggregation (e.g., meta-analysis) of findings by country, context, population, or event type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-23
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of School and Educational Psychology
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 2020


  • adverse childhood experience
  • prevalence
  • school
  • systematic review
  • trauma
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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