Adverse Childhood Experiences and Perceived Unfair Police Treatment: Differences by Race and Ethnicity

Alexander Testa, Dylan B. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to examine racial/ethnic heterogeneity in the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and perceived unfair police treatment in the United States. Methods: Data are from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 8,876). Logistic regression models were used to assess the relationship between accumulating ACEs and perceived unfair police treatment. Moderation analyses were conducted to assess interactions between ACEs, race, and ethnicity. Results: Those with four or more ACEs were 3.4 times as likely to report perceived unfair police treatment by adulthood, relative to individuals with zero ACEs (odds ratio = 3.411, 95% confidence interval = 2.634, 4.418). Still, Black individuals have the highest probability of experiencing unfair police contact, and this pattern remains relatively stable irrespective of the number of ACEs. The probability of perceived unfair police treatment significantly increases alongside accumulating ACEs for all other racial and ethnic groups. Discussion: Exposure to accumulating ACEs substantially elevates the likelihood of perceived unfair police treatment. However, perceived unfair police treatment is so common in the lives of Black Americans; it occurs at considerably high rates irrespective of ACE exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-809
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Police
  • Racial disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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