Rural-Urban Differences in Adverse and Positive Childhood Experiences: Results from the National Survey of Children's Health

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2020
Project completed:
September 2022

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are events of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction that occur between birth and 17 years of age. Multiple studies have established the association between ACEs and risky behaviors and poor physical and mental health outcomes in childhood and beyond. Rural and minority children often have higher rates of ACE exposure than their peers. Yet previous results on ACEs and rurality have shown mixed results due to differences in: 1) geographic coverage of studied datasets, 2) measurement of ACEs, and 3) sampling methodologies. Furthermore, examinations of intra-rural differences in ACEs among racial/ethnic groups, particularly among American Indian/Alaska Native populations, have been limited. The findings from this study informed prevention and intervention efforts for rural children in the U.S.

This project's aims included 1) ascertaining whether ACE and positive childhood experiences (PCE) exposure differs between rural and urban children by type and by count; 2) quantifying racial/ethnic disparities in ACE and PCE exposure across rural communities; and 3) documenting the proportion of children with ACEs who lack PCE exposure among rural children.