[hackerspaces] Children in hackerspaces.

Sean Bonner sean at seanbonner.com
Tue Jan 26 21:17:44 CET 2010

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 10:49 AM, Serendipity Seraph <sseraph at me.com> wrote:
> But what exactly is a minor?

In the united states this is a legal definition - anyone under 18
years old is a minor regardless of how skilled or competent they are.
What that means is anyone under 18 is assumed not to be old enough to
know right from wrong, safe from dangerous and therefor that
responsibility lies on someone elses shoulders. What this means is a
17 year old could be at a hackerspace and burn him/her self with a
soldering iron and that persons parents (or in some cases even the
city) could hold the hackerspace responsible for endangering a minor
and sue and or arrest them. If the same thing happened to a person who
was 18 the courts would assume the person was responsible for
themselves and no one needed to be watching them because they are
legally an adult.

It's dumb, but it's the law.


>  I know some 7 year olds who can hack rings
> around me in certain domains and are at least as little accident prone.
> Then I know some dear grown up geeks that I wouldn't want to see moving
> around much away from their domain of expertise without supervision.   :)
> At the very least a lot of teenage hackers should not be a big issue.
> - samantha
> On Jan 25, 2010, at 7:47 AM, Matt Joyce wrote:
> Preface:
> I think kids should be allowed in hackerspaces when conditions make that a
> sane parenting move.
> Characters:
> Tommy Juvenile
> Dave Derelict
> Tim Hacker
> Maxine Maker
> Setting: A random hacker space in present day United States.
> Act I:
> Maxine and Tim enter
> Tim:  wow this is awesome, we're hacking up a storm.
> Maxine: hell yes it is.  I just attached a cat to another cats back and
> through it off a roof...  I've violated the fundamental laws of conservation
> of energy.  Next!  Toast!
> Act II:
> Maxine and Tim are hosting an open hackathon
> Dave Derelict enters with his son Tommy Juvenile
> Tim: Hey Dave, brought the kid today eh?
> Dave: Yeah, he loves this stuff
> Tommy stares blankly
> Dave unpacks and gets to work assembling a fine product from american vendor
> adafruit.  Go USA!
> Maxine: Hey Tim come help me hoist up this antenna on the roof.
> Tim: Okay, Dave you have the helm.
> Dave: leave it to me!
> Dave solders away
> Tommy is wandering around
> Tim and Maxine exit
> Act III:
> Tim and Maxine enter
> Dave is finishing up his kit
> Tommy is lying under a collapsed shelf
> Tim:  Jesus Christ!
> Maxine: I'll call 911
> Dave:  This thing is so cool.
> Tommy gives a death rattle.
> Act IV:
> Tim and Maxine are sitting under a box eating cat food.
> Tim: We had waivers..
> Maxine: We had insurance..
> Together: Why the hell did we attach our names to this...
> Big Dance Number.
> Obviously a worse case scenario.  But it closely mimics a real scenario that
> almost played out at nycr.  What you need to realize about US liability is
> that it absolutely is 100% non functional.  TORT reform has been wanted by
> most people for 30 years.  But beyond that, courts always rule in the
> interests of what is best for the welfare of a child.  One major injury to a
> child under any circumstances would be the end of your hackerspace.
> Insurance would likely cover it, but you'd be unable to pay increased fees
> and find a new provider.  And that's best case.
> Additionally some folks just don't want to deal with kids sometimes.  Which
> I get as well, but that's neither here nor there.
> Simply put though, a kid could easily hurt themselves in our space.  And we
> would cease to exist for increasing values of hurt.
> -Matt
> You can argue with that logic as much as you want, but we did our homework
> at nycr and contacted local legal minds.  Our rule against kids was base
> mostly on this single issue.  I was among an almost non existent group of
> dissenters, but I clearly recognize the sanity in choosing to disallow
> children in US spaces.
> On Jan 25, 2010 9:25 AM, "jur1st" <jur1st at cowtowncomputercongress.org>
> wrote:
> Our memberships apply to households and if a kid isn't of legal age to enter
> into a contract their parents must sign on their behalf.
> Parents (that would be involved in hackerspaces) aren't stupid and even with
> our new CNC machine, we don't have anything down there more dangerous than
> what you might find in a high school shop class or down at the vo-tec.
> For what it's worth, our insurance provider didn't specifically ask about
> minors using the facility.
> - jur1st
> On Jan 25, 2010, at 7:55 AM, Eric Gerlach wrote: > On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at
> 01:16:53PM +0100, webm...
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Sean Bonner
http://www.seanbonner.com - homebase
http://www.metblogs.com - get local
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Sent from Marina Del Rey, CA, United States

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