top of page

The Correlation Between Intergenerational Poverty and Intergenerational Trauma

ACES is also known as adverse childhood experiences, a term created by the CDC in Partnership with Kaiser Permanente. The groundbreaking study found that children who experience trauma have more negative health outcomes as an adult. A study by the National Institutes of Health also found that brain development of children can be negatively impacted from growing up in poverty. This is due to factors such as exposure to greater levels of stress, cold or lack of proper heating, and high-fat diets.

Intergenerational poverty has a very strong relationship to intergenerational trauma. The nature of poverty has the potential to facilitate the propensity for trauma. An example would be a teenager whose parents are rarely home because they have to work so much so the child ends up getting into trouble and going to jail, or the mom who can’t participate fully in parenting her child because unemployment and a limited income has meant she can no longer access her mental health care, which leaves her unable to function. There are many more examples of how interrelated poverty and trauma are, probably endless examples actually.

SWOP Behind Bars eases the impacts to families of incarcerated persons through programs like MoneyTalks, that provides financial tools and education to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons who may not have ever had access to financial education due to the axis of intergenerational poverty and intergenerational trauma. One of the biggest ways in which the State fails incarcerated people is by not sufficiently working to counter the impacts of poverty and trauma, and the lack of their supporting a transition from prison to the outside world. Incarcerated people, upon release, are maybe given a ride to the nearest bus stop, possibly a very small stipend, and that’s about it. This is a huge contributor to recidivism and we know that people with more ACES (adverse childhood experiences) are more likely to have a higher rate of adverse health (including mental health) outcomes as adults from trauma as children, as well as the added difficulties faced of financial barriers that people without ACES . By not fully addressing the potential impacts of issues such as poverty, trauma, systemic racism, etc. prisons are failing incarcerated persons.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page