In class we discussed whether a child's conduct should be evaluated using the reasonable prudent person standard or a special standard that takes into account the child's age and other characteristics. Today I read a report on a case from a town in rural Pennsylvania where an 11 year old killed his dad's girlfriend. What I found interesting is that the kid reportedly used "a youth model 20-gauge shotgun — a gun designed to be used by young children." Take a moment to think about that sentence: "a gun designed to be used by children." Here is a link to the Orange County NY Shooters with a list of guns for children and take a look at how they make fun of those who claim there is something wrong with giving children a gun. Also, take a look here for a comment on a proposal in South Dakota to lower the legal age for hunting to 10.
If there are guns designed for young children (as there are snowmobiles, ATVs, and motorcycles), and if hunting is an activity that can commonly be done by minors, should we still be talking about "adult activities"? Are there any activities that we can say are exclusively "adult activities"?
Some jurisdictions have abandoned the terminology of "adult activity" and instead refer to "inherently dangerous activities". In those jurisdictions, children engaged in inherently dangerous activities can be held to the standard of care that would apply to an adult. But here is a question: can an activity in which children participate using an instrument specifically designed for children be considered "inherently dangerous"?
If you think that the underlying policy behind the notion of "inherently dangerous" activities is that the activity is somehow "inappropriate" for children then the answer should be No. But I think that inherently dangerous means something else. I think we should think of the underlying policy as one related to the risk involved. If the activity creates a high level of risk when children engage in it, then the child should be held to the standard of care of an adult.