A while back The Atlantic had an article by Hanna Rosin describing how it was that in just a couple of generations Americans became intolerant of exposing their children to what used to be considered normal risks.
Some of it had to do with lawsuits:
…[P]ark departments all over the country began removing equipment newly considered dangerous, partly because they could not afford to be sued, especially now that a government handbook could be used by litigants as proof of standards that parks were failing to meet…[T]he cultural understanding of acceptable risk began to shift, such that any known risk became nearly synonymous with hazard.
The consequences are somewhat paradoxical, but they make sense. Removing danger does away with an important learning experience:
Children are born with the instinct to take risks in play, because historically, learning to negotiate risk has been crucial to survival; in another era, they would have had to learn to run from some danger, defend themselves from others, be independent. Even today, growing up is a process of managing fears and learning to arrive at sound decisions. By engaging in risky play, children are effectively subjecting themselves to a form of exposure therapy, in which they force themselves to do the thing they’re afraid of in order to overcome their fear. But if they never go through that process, the fear can turn into a phobia. Paradoxically, Sandseter writes, “our fear of children being harmed,” mostly in minor ways, “may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.”
Not to mention dependency. On government regulation and protection from risk, perhaps?