World

11-year-old accuses teacher of committing war crimes — and she’s not completely wrong

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

Twitter screen capture

The Geneva Conventions dictate how most countries act in times of armed conflict, with the aim of protecting noncombatants and prisoners of war. They’re also helping one little girl make a powerful statement about the state of discipline in the educational system.

On Thursday, Scottish author Gavin Bell, known mostly by his pen name Mason Cross, tweeted a picture of what he said was his 11-year-old daughter’s feedback form for her teacher.

Under the line asking what her teacher could do better, young Ava Bell of Glasgow, United Kingdom, wrote, “Not use collective punishment as it is not fair on the many people who did nothing and under the 1949 (Geneva) Conventions, it is a war crime.”

“Not sure if I should ground her or buy her ice cream,” Cross wrote.

Ava Bell’s sassy response went viral, generating 150,000 retweets and more than 485,000 likes as of Friday afternoon, and sure enough, she got her ice cream.

Cross told the BBC that he found his daughter’s remark when at school for a parents meeting, where every student’s work was on display.

“She has a Google habit,” Cross said of his daughter. “Usually it's along the lines of science and technology.”

Cross also told the BBC that his daughter is very precocious, argumentative and is “11 going on 47.”

However, it’s worth noting that Ava isn’t entirely wrong in her argument. According to the Daily Dot, the 1949 conventions declared that “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed,” and that “No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.”

So, going off that definition alone, Ava Bell is actually right. Unfortunately for her, however, the Geneva Conventions only apply to states or organizations that are in armed conflict, so the Scottish school system and her teacher would be exempt from those rules.

It’s also worth pointing out that Cross said his daughter thinks her teacher is “awesome. It's just this aspect of the educational justice system she has an issue with.”

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