Health >> Childhood Health Risks >> Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) >> Frequency by Gender

Females were much more likely than males to report experiencing sexual abuse or having a mentally ill household member during childhood.

During childhood, frequent or extended exposure to toxic stressors – such as abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction – can impair brain development, with potentially lifelong consequences for health and wellbeing.  Similarly, certain attitudes and preferences in adolescence can predict whether teens are likely to engage in unhealthy or delinquent behaviors. 

In a telephone survey, King County adults were asked to think back to the years before they were 18 and report their exposure to any of 8 categories of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).  To facilitate demographic comparisons, 3 years of data were averaged.

Among King County adults, reports of most adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) did not differ by gender.  However,

  • Females were more likely than males to report childhood sexual abuse.
  • Females were more likely than males to report growing up in a household where someone was mentally ill.
  • 16% of King County female adults reported experiencing 4 or more ACEs, which is considered a “high” ACE score; only 13% of King County males had high ACE scores (data shown on separate page).