Adverse Childhood Experiences and School-Based Victimization and Perpetration

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17 Scopus citations


Retrospective studies using adult self-report data have demonstrated that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase risk of violence perpetration and victimization. However, research examining the associations between adolescent reports of ACE and school violence involvement is sparse. The present study examines the relationship between adolescent reported ACE and multiple types of on-campus violence (bringing a weapon to campus, being threatened with a weapon, bullying, fighting, vandalism) for boys and girls as well as the risk of membership in victim, perpetrator, and victim–perpetrator groups. The analytic sample was comprised of ninth graders who participated in the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey (n ~ 37,000). Multinomial logistic regression models calculated the risk of membership for victim only, perpetrator only, and victim–perpetrator subgroups, relative to no violence involvement, for students with ACE as compared with those with no ACE. Separate logistic regression models assessed the association between cumulative ACE and school-based violence, adjusting for age, ethnicity, family structure, poverty status, internalizing symptoms, and school district size. Nearly 30% of students were exposed to at least one ACE. Students with ACE represent 19% of no violence, 38% of victim only, 40% of perpetrator only, and 63% of victim–perpetrator groups. There was a strong, graded relationship between ACE and the probability of school-based victimization: physical bullying for boys but not girls, being threatened with a weapon, and theft or property destruction (ps <.001) and perpetration: bullying and bringing a weapon to campus (ps <.001), with boys especially vulnerable to the negative effects of cumulative ACE. We recommend that schools systematically screen for ACE, particularly among younger adolescents involved in victimization and perpetration, and develop the infrastructure to increase access to trauma-informed intervention services. Future research priorities and implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-681
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care Grant T32HP22239 (principal investigator [PI]: Borowsky), Bureau of Health Workforce.


  • adverse childhood experiences
  • gender
  • school-based victimization and perpetration

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

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