Question: My 12 year old son has just come back from a holiday in Israel. Should he bentch gomel?
Answer: The Magen Avraham (OC 219:1) quotes the Maharam of Mintz (14) who writes that children don’t recite the beracha of hagomel. As children do not get punished for their sins, it wouldn’t make sense for them to say the words, ‘hagomel lechayavim tovos, who bestows good things upon the guilty’. Nor can he just omit those words, as we mustn’t tamper with the text of the berachos. The Mishna Berura (219:3) adds that we don’t even train children to recite this beracha for chinuch (See Shevet Halevi 3:163:2).
The Shaarei Teshuva (OC 219:1), however, quotes the Mahari Bason (Lachmei Todah 5) and others who allowed children to recite the beracha. Likewise, R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 4:63) challenges the reasons for children not to.
Nonetheless, the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 219:6) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 219:2) write that common practice is for children not to recite hagomel. Similarly, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 14:20; 18:22) writes that children who recover from an illness shouldn’t bentch either.
In conclusion, the consensus of poskim is that children should not recite the beracha of hagomel.