Words Can Be Weapons: Powerful Chinese Campaign Links Teenage Crime to Emotional Abuse


It’s scary to think that a number of parents and adults don’t realize they verbally abuse children. It’s even scarier once we take a look at the potential consequences of this abuse. Some adults think they simply get carried away with anger when they scold their children, but they fail to realize that physical abuse is not the only way to harm a child.

In China, the number of juvenile crimes has doubled in recent years and when the Center For Psychological Research went to investigate this, they stumbled upon a disturbing realization: juvenile crime is directly tied to childhood emotional abuse.

“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, executive creative director of the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather. “We really needed to tell this ‘cycle-of-violence’ story in a way that will make people sit up and take notice.”

And so they did.

Words Can Be Weapons,” a multimedia campaign based in China, interviewed six teenagers in Shenyang Detention Center. During these interviews, the teenagers revealed the harsh words that were said to them as children. They were told that they were useless, garbage, morons, and in one extreme case, a mother constantly told her son to “go away and die.”

The campaign takes the words that haunted these teenagers and literally transforms them into the weapon which the teens used to commit their crimes. The message here is clear: these harsh words are weapons in disguise.

Take a look at the powerful video below.