IMPACT
09/19/2014 11:06 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Here Is Powerful Proof That Abusive Words Are Literally Weapons

Whoever first claimed that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" was very, very wrong.

To illustrate this fact, "Words Can Be Weapons" -- a multimedia campaign based in China and featured in the video above -- turns Chinese words into weapons to show that what we say can hurt others, very literally.

The campaign interviewed six teenagers in Shenyang Detention Center about cutting statement their parents said to them in the past, such as "moron" and "You're a disgrace." The video then transforms these words into replications of the actual weapons these young people later used to commit their crimes.

The number of crimes committed by juveniles has doubled in China, and the Center For Psychological Research in Shenyang says its studies tie juvenile crime to childhood emotional abuse -- a taboo subject in China. To try to start a conversation about the issue, the center partnered with the Beijing office of advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather.

“Verbal abuse of children is like setting off a time bomb. It explodes only much later, long after the original perpetrator has left the scene. And it is society that pays the price, as is evident from the rising rate of juvenile crime," explained Juggi Ramakrishnan, Ogilvy and Mather's executive creative director in Beijing, in a press release. "We really needed to tell this ‘cycle-of-violence’ story in a way that will make people sit up and take notice.”

One teen, shot through the bars of what looks like an unlit cell, begins his interview by saying, "I guess my world must be a dark one... My mother would yell at me every day, often telling me to go away and die." When he heard these words again, this time from a manager at his barbershop job, he lost control and stabbed him.

The campaign took the words that had haunted him his entire life, and turned them into a knife like the one he had used in his assault.

The campaign's English language video, embedded above, was published on YouTube in April -- but has only recently garnered the attention it deserves. Check out even more content from the project, including longform interviews with the inmates, at wordscanbeweapons.com.

h/t Design Taxi

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