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how young is too young?

May 16, 2000
This is a subject of much debate between my significant other and myself. What I was wondering, is what do you all think? At what age does a, hypothetically speaking, young boy become responsible enough to start using? When asking this, i fully realize that there isn't a magical age that, when reached, one will not be a danger to one's self and others, but there is a general turning point. Notice that this does not mean carry at such places as school where people have been known to crucify children for having squirt gun key chains on their backpacks. I'm thinking a 2-2.5" blade or so, nothing too fancy. Tell me what you think

"An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys" -Van Roy's Law

[This message has been edited by fchavis (edited 12-21-2000).]
If the blade is short enough the risks to life and limb are low. The hazards of minor injury are moderate, but the hazards to property are major. Most young children never do anything constructive, they just play or do some school work under direct supervision. A knife will just be played with, and that involves cutting things--toys, clothing, furniture, car seats...

Some children play a lot outside in rural environments. They may be no more focused, but they may do less harm with the knife with their play. Some children have a constructive side to their play. They don't just take things apart, they put them together. This is the kind of child who is the best risk for a knife at an early age. Give this one an SAK and see what he does with it. You may have to take it away for a while when the furniture displays his initials.

Some kids are agressive and/or destructive in their play. Don't give these kids knives until they have constructive work to do with the knives. They are certain to get into trouble otherwise--and you will take the heat. It may be best to wait and let them buy their own knives.

Look at the behaviours more than the age (above about age 6). Try letting a kid use a small knife of yours for a specific task. See if they use it for the purpose or start to mess around poking and slashing at things.
This is, as you stated, a very individual decision to make. If you feel that the "youngster" is interested, responsible (for their age), and willing to learn and practice safety measures, then I wouldn't necessarily worry about the age.
Of coarse I would institute a policy of only being able to use when I was there.
I would also choose a small lockback (or fixed blade)for the added security they offer.
You can also find little projects to do together such as whittling.
Knife sharpening is also another good thing to teach a child.

Pace the activities to their level. Don't worry about a quick loss of interest at a young age, just stick with it and provide steady guidance and they will slowly learn to appreciate a good knife.

And most important of all........Pray......Pray that they don't get cut or Mom will serve your a** for dinner.

--The Raptor--
I bought my daughter a Spyderco lady bug rescue model at age 7. I taught her how to open it and close it safely and how to cut with it. Being a girl she seemed a mature 7 so like has already been said "your the best judge of the right time." She was always very careful and took great pride in showing me how she could use it safely.


My Knife Page
As you said each child is unique. I started my son this year at age 5. He has 2 inexpensive small lockbacks and a SAK. I also have taken him to one knife/gun show, and also took him to the Baltimore show (he got 2 of his knives there). My daughter is 7 (and not nearly as responsable so..) she just got her first SAK this year. Most of the time the knives are kept in the padded knife case I gave him/her to store them in and every now and then he gets them out to cut something under supervison or use a tool on his SAK. My daughter seems to have forgotten that she even owns a knife. The children in my house have been taught that all tools have a purpose and are not just to play with. They would no more cut something they should not then get my 22 oz. framing hammer and beat my walls etc....
Hope this helps. The key is knowing the child, education, and supervision.
But if you are a parent you already knew that

Peace,and have a nice holiday,
I got my first knife when I was five... a small folder with a one and a half inch blade. I used it for whittling and such. I'm fourteen now, and I just got a CRKT M-16, which I carry almost everywhere except school. I also have a balisong and a couple other knives. I think I'm very responsible with my knives, I don't use them for any destructive purpose. However, it really depends on the kid.
I recieved my first (a stainless pakistani pos lockback) when I was eight. We we're very outdoorsy and my parents often let me go into the wooods on my own or with my younger brother. My parents (mainly dad) sat me down and told me exactly how to treat the knife and I had used them in Cub Scouts before anyway. They didn't show me how to sharpen but told me verbally. It took years of experimentation to get that darn knife sharp (it's hard when you're eight using sandstone you found near the creek). But then again (redneck town in TX)it was (still is) legal starting in Jr. High to carry a small pocket knife to school. It just depends on your best judgement and your childs knowledge and experience around knives. I'd let them use my knife every now and then under direct supervision (like father and son wittling projects) until I had confidense in him/her.
Hope this helps,

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me.
As already stated, It's up to your perception of the child's level of responsibility. However, training and proper supervision must accompany the knife once given. I got my first knives upon entering the Cub Scouts and recieving their training. The knife was only accessible to me during scouts or when a responsible adult could supervise my activities with it. I soon passed the tests, whatever they may have been, and have carried a knife daily since. When I was in high school, I carried a Buck Ranger. Imagine that in this day and age. That Ranger still sits in my daily carry bag ... makes me reminisce all those drive by slashings from my high school days.
I have 5 nephews between the ages of 6 and 9. Two have knives from me already and 3 won't get one any time soon if I don't see some maturity. One non-knifer has had plenty of instruction on guns and knives but apparently just doesn't "get it."

Of course, I've met adults I wouldn't hand a knife.
I agree with all of you. Except when I was a child, I always smashed up my fathers walls with a 22oz framing hammer. It was great fun. Children are still children, you should know your child before you make a big step like this. And even then you should carefully monitor and moderate the childs use of such a 'toy'.

- ender

[This message has been edited by ender (edited 12-21-2000).]

[This message has been edited by ender (edited 12-21-2000).]
I was eight, and I gave my son a knife when he reached eight. Why? I don't know, it just seemed like the right time.
I was 8 years old when I was given my first
lockback blade. It was a traditional "brass
bolsters and rosewood" special with what must
have been a one inch blade. My father gave me
the lecture and I never cut myself, any of my
mother's furniture, or anyone else with that
knife. It was a sign of trust and I knew it.

I graduated to a two-inch drop-point blade
lockback, an inexpensive but attractive knife
with a stainless handle. I carried that knife
for several years, and when I lost it, got a
second one just like it. When my dad ended up
breaking that one, it was again replaced with
the same knife. I carried that knife until I
was about 14 when I graduated again, and got
myself a slightly better quality lockback.

I always carried those knives responsibility
as a growing lad, mostly because I knew that
I would be judged on how I used it. Due to my
good record with all of those knives, on my
16th birthday I was given my first rifle - a
bolt-action .22LR - which I own to this day.

My grandfather died when I was 5 and a year or two later I got his old Victorinox penknife. I carried it a lot and got into a little mischief with it but we lived in a remote wooded corner of CT where a small boy needed a knife if he was going to spend any amount of time in the woods.

When I was 8 or so and in the cub scouts, my dad gave me his old boy scout knife. It was a swiss army type knife with the fork and spoon, had stag handles and a studded leather case. I never carried that one.

When I was 11 my parents bought a dairy farm in VA and knives were something that everyone carried and used on daily basis. I cut open lots of hay bales with that penknife.

When I was 13 my Mom went on a trip and brought me back a Schrade barlow style folder with a scrimshaw handle. I carried that for a few years and distinctly remember bringing it to school on a daily basis.

When I was 16 I bought my first knife, a small Schrade lockback in a leather sheath. That was main knife on the farm thereafter.

I think that it really does depend on the kid. I certainly cut myself a few times, stabbed my hand pretty bad once, but that's how you learn to repect a sharp object.

I am a wallpaper contractor now and for the last 15 years have been walking around all day long with a razorblade in my mouth. Never cut myself. I'm ALWAYS aware of the blade.

Peter Atwood

Depends on the maturity level.My dad gave me my first SAK which I lost in the woods at age 7, my first Buck at 10, and my fist Case at 12. If your givin um a knife make sure he can use it. When I was 9 I had a cheapo imitation SAK that snapped shut
-WHILE I WAS CUTTING TOWARDS MYSELF- this resulted in my finger hanging by a small piece of skin and ligament. Finger still won't bend all the way down when I make a fist.

You may think it's funny but wait till it's your turn.
I was 7 when I got my first knife, did I hurt myself ? damn straight I did
However it was the last time I didnt respect a knife while it was in my hand. I think 7-8 is a fine age to give a boy/girl a knife.

Dark Nemesis

[This message has been edited by Dark Nemesis (edited 12-22-2000).]
I was 5 when I received my first knife, a cheap Ranbo fixed blade knock-off. I think responsibility goes beyond the child being handed the knife. As others have said, training by the parents is a must. But, responsible supervision is also a must. At that age, the parent still should keep the blade locked up away from the child. The child should only be allowed to use it when the parents are there and hand them the knife. But then again, we must remember... How many of use keep all out kitchen knives locked away? Kids have access to a knife any time they want it. Safe handling is a must at as early an age as possible.
Thank for all the replies. I’ve been saying the same thing for years. I think that owning a knife will aid in the teaching of responsibility, as the age old saying says, no one respects fire until they get burned. With a small enough knife used while under supervision, cuts will be held to an educational minimum.

I gotta say, as someone who doesn't yet have children, it seems like you all are a pretty responsible, intelligent bunch of parents. Congratulations on having the good sense to make sure your children are responsible, and on making the time to teach them to be so. Knife knuts are the greatest people.