If anything, bolt action single shot or similar. I had my dad's old Winchester 55 open-bolt as my first.
Single round loaded from top, ejects to the bottom, safety resets every shot. Hard to get in trouble with that.
Marlin makes a 12" LOP model- the 915Y. Single shot bolt action 16" barrel. My buddy's boy had this until he outgrew it a couple years ago.
If and when, the Ruger 77/22 should be every boy's first rifle when they are big enough. They don't make them in 22LR anymore, but there's tons used for sale. Or find a Winchester Model 52- there's many thousands of them used, were in-production for ~80 years.