Adverse childhood experiences: Mechanisms of risk and resilience in a longitudinal urban cohort

Alison Giovanelli, Christina F. Mondi, Arthur J. Reynolds, Suh Ruu Ou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There is an extensive literature describing the detrimental effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACE; e.g., abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction) on physical and mental health. However, few large-scale studies have explored these associations longitudinally in urban minority cohorts or assessed links to broader measures of well-being such as educational attainment, occupation, and crime. Although adversity and resilience have long been of interest in developmental psychology, protective and promotive factors have been understudied in the ACE literature. This paper investigates the psychosocial processes through which ACEs contribute to outcomes, in addition to exploring ways to promote resilience to ACEs in vulnerable populations. Follow-up data were analyzed for 87% of the original 1,539 participants in the Chicago Longitudinal Study (N = 1,341), a prospective investigation of the impact of an Early Childhood Education program and early experiences on life-course well-being. Findings suggest that ACEs impact well-being in low-socioeconomic status participants above and beyond the effects of demographic risk and poverty, and point to possible mechanisms of transmission of ACE effects. Results also identify key areas across the ecological system that may promote resilience to ACEs, and speak to the need to continue to support underserved communities in active ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1439
Number of pages22
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supplementary Material. The supplementary material for this article can be found at Financial Support. The research reported in this publication was supported by the Chicago Longitudinal Study, Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota and the Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC). Funding was provided thanks to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grant # R01HD034294). Dr. Giovanelli was additionally supported by the University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. Dr. Giovanelli and Ms. Mondi were also supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under grant # 00039202 and the Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-being. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


  • ACEs
  • generative mechanisms
  • risk and resilience
  • underserved communities

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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