Adverse childhood experiences and adjustment: A longitudinal study of street-involved youth in Brazil

Marcela Raffaelli, Juliana Prates Santana, Normanda Araujo de Morais, Carlos J. Nieto, Silvia H. Koller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most research on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has been conducted in high-income countries in the global North. The current longitudinal study examined the prevalence, overlap, and impact of ACEs in a sample of Brazilian children and adolescents who use city streets as spaces for socialization and survival (i.e., street-involved youth). Participants (N = 113; M age = 14.18 years) were recruited in three cities following standardized procedures. Most youth were male (80.5%) and non-White (91%). Lifetime exposure to ACEs was assessed at the first study time point; six indicators of psychological, behavioral, and physical adjustment were assessed 6 months later. Analyses addressed three research goals. First, the prevalence of seven ACEs was examined. Youth reported an average of 4.8 ACEs (SD = 1.25); no significant age or gender differences were found in ACEs exposure (all ps >.05). Second, the overlap between different ACEs was explored. Family dysfunction was correlated with family disruption and physical abuse; poverty and physical abuse were related (ps <.05). Third, prospective associations between ACEs and adjustment were tested. Total number of ACEs was not significantly correlated with any outcome, but several associations emerged for specific ACEs. For example, death of a close friend or family member was prospectively associated with negative affect; sexual abuse was associated with illicit drug use and physical health symptoms (ps <.05). Findings highlight the prevalence of ACEs in this vulnerable population and underscore the value of extending research on ACEs into novel populations and contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Adjustment
  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • Brazil
  • Longitudinal study
  • Street-involved youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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