I'd particularly recommend Ruby, even over Python. It's got very clean, elegant syntax, and its main disadvantages (performance, mostly) won't matter to him. He would be able to quickly get into web development too if he learned Rails.
I highly recommend the book Learn To Program by Chris Pine. It uses Ruby as a teaching language.
Ruby is truly purely object-oriented (no primitives) which helps with consistency and the principle of least surprise. It also does NOT have the whitespace-as-syntax 'issue' of Python. But, python is also a good choice. Ruby has nice functional aspects as well, which if he eventually learns how to use them, will make him a better programmer in any language.
Lua is used as the scripting engine for a lot of games, which might make it a good choice.
Scala is another alternative, though it might be a little tricky as a first language.
The advantages of higher-level languages like Ruby, Python, Lua, Scala etc. are that there's less code and less boilerplate, and while they're further from the metal than C, you can get meaningful stuff done faster, which may be a good thing for a 12 year old's attention span.
I'm a PhD student in computer science at Tufts University and our department is seriously rethinking how intro CS is taught at the undergrad level, so I've put some thought into this. Note that I would NOT make the same recommendations for a 12 year old as for a college freshman, necessarily.