We can all remember at least one occasion when we were threatened with collective punishment at school, right? I recall my high school form teacher especially loved issuing a whole-class lunchtime detention if the person responsible for hiding his blackboard duster didn’t own up. (I’m admitting nothing.)
It’s a common tactic. Make the many suffer for the one, and chances are that the culprit will either be outed by their peers or – you never know – feel guilty enough at the prospect that they turn themselves in.
But Ava Morrison Bell, an 11-year-old from Scotland, decided enough was enough. She wasn’t happy about everyone getting into trouble when it was other people who were misbehaving, so she decided to let her teacher know. For good measure, she threw in some legalities, too.
Crime and punishment
Her father, writer Mason Cross, shared on Twitter a screenshot of a note his daughter wrote on a school feedback form. Under the heading ‘Things my teacher(s) can do better’, Ava said: “Not use collective punishment as it is not fair on the many people who did nothing.” She added: “And under the 1949 Geneva Convention it is a war crime.”
She’s right, technically. The Geneva Convention provides a set of universal laws to protect civilians and prisoners during times of war, setting out how those not involved in the fighting should be treated. And, let’s face it, there are those who would argue a classroom isn’t unlike a war zone at times.
Mr Cross wrote: “My daughter actually submitted this feedback at school. Not sure if I should ground her or buy her ice cream…”
Ava’s teacher reportedly found the incident amusing. And Twitter agreed, with more than 156,000 retweets and 514,000 ‘likes’ for Mr Cross’s post. Bowing to public opinion, he duly rewarded Ava for her honesty and outspokenness.