“No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” – Geneva Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Article 33: ‘Individual Responsibility, Collective Penalties, Pillage, Reprisals’

The Geneva Conventions and an 11-year old’s words to her teacher

You are probably wondering what the heck the Geneva Conventions has to do with an 11-year old girl, right?

Sit tight. It’s a kicker.

Per Cornell University’s School of Law, the Geneva Conventions “is a body of Public International Law, also known as the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts, whose purpose is to provide minimum protections, standards of humane treatment, and fundamental guarantees of respect to individuals who become victims of armed conflicts.”

Well, a smart 11-year old girl believes Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions applies to a classroom of young kids as well. Come to think of it, would a parent want their child to be punished for something another kid did? (Tell us your thoughts).

Young Ava Goes Viral

When a teacher gives their students a survey, it’s probably wise for them to refrain from using collective punishment as a disciplinary technique. Mason Cross, an acclaimed and award-winning author, posted a snippet of the survey on Twitter. Here it is, verbatim (grammar errors gladly overlooked):

Source: Mason Cross/Twitter

Mason Cross @MasonCrossBooks

“My daughter actually submitted this feedback at school. Not sure if I should ground her or buy her ice cream…”

(Survey) Things my teacher(s) can do better.

Ava Cross: “Not use collective punishment as it is not fair on the many people who did nothing and under the 1949 Genva (sic) Conventions it is a war crime.”

Replies: 8,500

Retweets: 122,000

Loves: 398,000

Creativity and Smarts: Plenty

Ice cream…a lot of it

As for Mr. Cross’ predicament over grounding or buying young Ava some ice cream, the public was quite clear. Here were some (G-rated) responses:

“The ice cream. For sure.” (@KiranManral)

“I’m game to crowdfund her entire year’s ice cream needs tbh.” (@PedestrianPoet)

“Buy her ice cream for the full school year…” (@calamur)

“That is BRILLIANT. Buy her ice cream. Biggest one in the shop.” (@katehelencarter)

“Ice cream and a framed copy of the convention mate.” (@NW6Penguin)

“I say bonus points for her creative thinking and excellent example. I say ice cream sundae, which she deserves.” (@loverofmusic9)

 “Why would you ground her for speaking her mind – and frankly I agree.” (@ron_miller)

“Serious question – why would you ground her? Teacher asked for feedback, she gave it. Can’t see even theoretically what’s punishable here?” (@karinjr)

And the whipped cream with a cherry on top – pun intended:

“Ava for Prime Minister!” (@GenStans)


It didn’t end on Twitter

Let’s look at the following media outlets that featured a story on young Ava:

– BBC (yeah, that BBC!)

– Mashable

– Teen Vogue (which she was apparently really proud of, being as she’s not a teen)

UK Mail Online

– Independent News

– Huffington Post UK

– ABC (Australia)

– Business Insider

– Miami Herald

– New York Daily News

Ava, ever the class act, adamantly explained that she loves her teacher – but is not a fan of group punishment. Duly noted.

Mr. Cross’ Reply

“I thought [the online response] was really funny and absolutely typical of Ava, who I haven’t managed to beat in an argument since she turned six.”

Cross, a writer who’d just received widespread acclaim for his series of books, later pictured Ava holding two large ice cream cones. The caption? “The people have spoken.”

The fact that the 11-year old is absolutely adorable probably helps.