Ogilvy Beijing illustrates the killing power of verbal abuse with steel letterings

Words can kill indirectly through decades—this message has been put behind the latest social project by Ogilvy Beijing, The Center for Psychological Research in Shenyang and artist Yong Xie, which tried to show the negative potential of verbal abuse.

The team behind the Words Can be Weapons project studied the cases of young murderers. These people heard a lot of bad words from their parents and teachers. This influenced their personality in a dramatic way, seeding aggression and hatred of others. When they grew older, they committed awful crimes and killed people.

The creative team released sets of steel lettering that can be arranged into a model weapon—guns, axes, knives,—similar to the ones these people killed their victims with. This project is supposed to raise awareness of how dangerous abuse of children by their parents might be, and that the mistreating children may be the explanation of the rapid growth of youth violence in China.

“In China, verbal child abuse is a taboo topic that is not widely discussed nor easily detected,” commented a creative from Ogilvy. “To help Chinese parents and guardians see the real-life, destructive consequences of verbal abuse, O&M told the backstories of six juvenile offenders in Shenyang Detention Center, who are serving time for serious crimes like murder and assault. Each teen spoke candidly about the scarring words that their parents and caretakers said to them as children.”