Reason's A. Barton Hinkle suggests that's because parents used to let children toughen up.
A gaggle of parents swirled around elementary-school children, taking photos to forever immortalize the First Day of School. When the bus came, the tots dutifully hauled themselves aboard and sorted themselves into the seats. The parents, meanwhile, began to wave wildly. You would have thought they were bidding bon voyage to an ocean liner, not saying sayonara to someone they would be seeing again in seven hours.
School buses apparently have sailings, now.
Going to the bus stop used to be a stoic ordeal, not a festive occasion. Your folks might march you to the proper spot, if it was your first time, but after that you were on your own. Nobody took pictures. Nobody was waiting at the bus stop when you came back, either. Now parents not only wait – they bring the car in case of inclement weather.
Once the kids get to school, the hazards have been taken out of recess, that is, if the kids even GET a recess.
The equipment on today’s playground, you might have noticed, is sheathed in rubber (fewer bruises) with few if any moving parts (no pinched fingers). To increase safety further, some schools have banned games such as dodgeball, touch football, soccer, and even tag. The playground itself might be surfaced with shredded tires. Shredded tires are not only environmentally correct, they also guarantee that any child unlucky enough to fall will bounce.

When those of us of a certain age were growing up, playgrounds were surfaced with gravel. Sometimes even scrap metal and broken glass. It hurt like heck, but it made a man out of you.
Recess is less important than high-stakes testing, at least in the mind of school administrators.

Does it come as any surprise, then, that when the products of common schools purged of any challenge arrive at university, the idea of "it depends" as an answer comes as a shock to some?  And that people deprived of the chance to toss bean-bags as eight-year-olds turn bean-bag into a drinking game?

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