I've been trying to think of some part of life where teenagers and young adults are bucking the overall trend toward greater short-term safety and (over-)protection that began in the early-mid 1990s. But I can't come up with any good counter-examples off the top of my head. Any ideas?
Actually, let me update that to include any greater exposure to the tougher aspects of real life. It's not just dangerous things that kids are more protected from than before, like violence and drug use, but also having a job, being in the Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, or playing challenging video games (ones that are "Nintendo hard").
I emphasize short-term safety because I'm convinced that insulating yourself from the stressors of the real world here and now ultimately weakens and endangers your robustness to them. (See the afterword to the new paperback edition of Taleb's The Black Swan for more on this piece of lost wisdom.) Someone who has never gotten into a fight of any kind probably lives in a world where full-out brawls have become more rare -- but once he does encounter that obstacle, he'll come away much more banged up than someone who has had the occasional exposure to fights. Someone who has been shielded from interactions with exploiters probably lives in a world where these encounters are more rare -- but once they do meet an exploiter, they'll really get taken to the cleaners, like Little Red Riding Hood. The only cure for naivete is occasional exposure to real-world dangers.