[hackerspaces] People in hackerspaces - ages?

hadez hadez.hso at nrrd.de
Fri Jan 17 09:46:07 CET 2014

Caveat: your local mileage may vary / IANAL.

At shackspace we've had a quite long discussion about this which also
involved getting someone from the local youth center to the space to
explain how they handle it (very insightful, I can only recommend
doing that).
Here in Germany there's several age levels that give a child/youth
more personal freedom and reduce the need and level of supervision and
at the same time also increase said child/youths liability for their
own actions.

The rule of thumb we ended up with is basically this:
Small children have to be supervised by a parent or suitable other
party at all times.
Those around 12-ish to 18 have to have a patron who's also a
key-holding member present and the basic rule here is: if you want to
use $tool, ask first. The rule for the key-member is: be "around" all
the time, the younger, the closer.
If there's no key-member around who feels like supervising, you cannot
stay at the space. So making arrangements up front - usually via the
mailing list - works quite well.
Once they hit 18 they're on their own.

The experiences so far are very good.
Right now we have a very few <18y olds which behave (I dare say) more
responsible than some of the older generations ;)
This is also somewhat self-regulating. If $kid is
annoying/irresponsible there will be no key-member around risking
their ass to supervise them so they will not be at the space for very
long ;)

One small tidbit I took away from the meeting with the youth center
guy is btw this:
If you're supervising kids playing at, say, a jungle gym and you're
close by having an eye on them and something happens (eg a kid falls),
that's usually interpreted as "good enough supervision".
If you say: "I didn't see it happening" you have a problem because
that shows clearly that you weren't paying attention.
However, if you say "I saw it happening but could not prevent it" no
one will expect you to break the rules of the physically possible and
cover a distance of 5 meters in < 1 second to catch them.
If you're negligent, you're screwed (which is good). But there's still
a rest-risk left whatever you do. And the amount of acceptable
rest-risk increases the older kids get.


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