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Where does criminality begin?

Is it a slow descent, or a deliberate and strategic choice for personal gain?

Is it place and time, location and opportunity?

Is there any way of determining how a child who has experienced trauma and deprivation may grow to adulthood, and the life-long effects this stress has?

Is it ever possible to prevent crime before it begins?

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are a set of questions dealing with childhood traumas. A set of five personal and five familial questions aiming to ascertain the effects of toxic stress upon an individual during their formative years.

I have had my own share of difficulties and challenges in my youth. My ACE score is six and people with an ACE score of six like mine run the risk of lowering their life expectancy up to an astonishing twenty years. They are more prone to early adult onset of diseases, as well as depression, suicide, violence and being a victim of violence.

More prone to addiction, obesity, toxic relationships and workplace absenteeism.

Individuals with higher ACE scores are responsible for a disproportionate cost to the state in criminal justice. I am lucky I have come out the other side and started to deal with my past, but I have been the living proof of these studies until very recently. In recovery from alcohol and drug use, I have been homeless, arrested multiple times and ultimately imprisoned.

We should not say that Adverse Childhood Experiences are an excuse for antisocial or criminal behaviour, but we should at least start to understand that they may be an explanation for.

Children’s ACE scores are by no means exclusively determined by their family circumstances or where they live, but children from disadvantaged areas are at greater risk of being damaged irreparably, and of falling foul of victimisation.

It’s not a cliche when we say that children are the future.  Only direct investment and improved social inclusivity of our poorest areas, and close but gentle watch of our most vulnerable citizens can ensure we move forward as a society and truly start to have an effect on crime.

“It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done”. – Kurt vonnegut, breakfast of champions.