Teen Suicides Due to Bad Parenting, Says TN Lawmaker


A Tennessee House lawmaker said on Tuesday that he opposes an anti-cyberbullying bill because the real cause of bullying related teen suicides is a failure in parenting.

The lawmaker, Rep. Jeremy Faison, also said he opposed the bill because it could criminalize children who bully others (to the brink of suicide).

He said:

We can’t continue to legislate everything and we’ve had some horrible things happen in America and in our state, and there’s children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them. They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.

You can listen to Faison’s remarks below:

Rep. Faison (R-Cosby) seemed to be alluding to the recent suicides in Cheatham and Smith counties.  The two cases have drawn national coverage and prompted lawmakers to look again at the state’s bullying laws.

Within minutes of Rep. Faison’s remarks the Tennessee Democratic Party issued a statement saying he was displaying a “boys will be boys” mentality in the face of parents and children who have lost kids and siblings to bullying-related suicide. Said a spokesperson on the Party’s official blog:

“What a disgrace.  Now, of course a tall and burly Faison doesn’t see any problems with bullying, as he admitted, he was perfectly capable of defending himself or dishing out punishment as he saw fit.  But many kids don’t have that ability. That is why laws like these need to be passed.

“It is unfortunate that some in the Republican Party have become the protectors of bullies.  Of course, it is not terribly surprising, because as a legislative group they are nothing but bullies, disparaging and demeaning those without power in this country in order to build themselves up.  So it is no wonder that they would see no big deal with the problems associated with childhood bullying in this country, and become the defenders of harassment.”

Rep. Faison has now apologized if he offended, though one notes he doesn’t actually disavow what he said:

“After reviewing my comments on the House Floor today, I regret what was a poor choice of words. My true intent was to protect children from becoming criminals. Suicide has touched my family, and I would never want a parent or family member to feel they were responsible for such an unimaginable tragedy.”

I can’t think of a better reaction to this so-called apology than the Tennessee Democratic Party’s:

So, in other words, he was so worried about protecting bullies from the possibility of criminal charges, that he mistakenly blamed parents for their children’s suicide.

Also a moment to marvel at Faison saying Tennessee can’t legislate on everything. Really? Because it seems that the Legislature has been trying fairly hard to do just that.

Examples are numerous but to list just a few, a ban on showing  underwear in public due to low-rise pants, a bill that characterizes miscarriage as murder, legislation to allow Creationism to be taught in the classroom as an alternative scientific theory,  a bill that characterizes hand-holding as a gateway to sexual activity, and of course the infamous Don’t Say Gay bill that could ultimately imprison teachers if they were to mention sexuality outside of a reproductive science framework.

But apparently trying to create tougher anti-bullying laws was the step too far.


Related Reading:

Missouri Advances Even Stricter Don’t Say Gay Bill

Louisiana Upholds the Right to Bully Gays in School

‘Don’t Say Gay’ One Step Closer in Tennessee


Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Steven Fernandez.


Mary W.
Mary W.6 years ago

Polarization and government as a cure-all is the greatest problem in the US. This man, like many posters of opposing responses perpetuate hate and discontent. Few seem to really care about the cargo just as long as they are on the band wagon. Extreme left as always is taking the 'attack the symptom' approach and extreme right barely recognizes a problem exists. Meanwhile children are hanging themselves on the schoolyard jungle gym. Bullies are at times, victims of bullies (abuse of some sort or over-inflated sense of self-worth via being spoiled rotten) and victims may have no true support at home. Maybe when the politcal dance is over we'll try to figure out a strategy to improve the situation.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

bad parenting could be a factor. So could bullying, bad self esteem, childhood trauma, feelings of depression or loneliness and a million other factors. Let's focus less on who to blame and more on helping kids who find themselves wanting to die

Michael M.
Michael M7 years ago

Stupid repukes and their lack of using their brains.
Well, I've always have said Bad Parents makes Bad Children, I think it's time we banned the people of TN from reproducing until they can get the parents to be better people.

iii q.
g d c7 years ago


J.L. A.
JL A7 years ago

actually these suicides are probably more attributable to bad governance than to bad parenting--failure to enact and enforce appropriate laws and policies to protect these citizens from harm

Catt R.
Catt R7 years ago

YES ! Parents ARE overprotecting their children..... the children that bully.
I used to work in a psych unit, on more than one occasion we had parents call and ask to make an appointment for their child to be seen and stating they expected us to present the court with documentation that their child was not responsible for their actions.
One woman screamed at me and said it was MY FAULT her daughter was going to prison for aggravated assault..... it seems court was the next morning, and she wanted to have her daughter admitted at 7 pm, for a few hours to accomplish her request. She seemed to think that a crisis intervention psych ward should be set up to handle legal matters and promised to sue us.

Carmen n.
Carmen n7 years ago

I want to see a dojo in every school! Let's see the bullies try to do their thing then... Actually, I daresay there would be far fewer bullies if such a policy were implememted...

Jade H.
Jade H7 years ago

Just about the time I think there isn't anything on here that surprises me anymore, I read something like this and am bowled over by the bigoted, overbearing, and downright "bullying" attitude of men in government! Sorry, Rep. Faison, you can't have it both ways. When children see their own government getting away with bullying others, what makes it unacceptable for them to do the same thing at their current level! You and your buddies are setting the examples for them - NOT parents!

marc page
Marc P7 years ago

This may be unpopular but.... I think a main reason for kids killing themselves over being bullied in today's world is the fact that parents over-protect children to the point that they become incapable of dealing with real life crises. Children are taught to rely on OTHER people to keep them safe. they are taught to NEVER fight back. They are bombarded with meta messages that they are helpless, incapable beings and that Authority "(Teacher, police etc.) will always keep them safe. When they discover that in reality, teachers and Authority all too often can NOT keep them safe from real life cruelties the child despairs. Back in the day it was expected that children be allowed to resolve their own problems between each other. And a few bloody noses were the end result. I never heard of a kid killing him or herself over bullying when I was a kid. And the bullies back then were far meaner and more physical than they are today.

Kathy W.
Kathy W.7 years ago

He was correct in saying the parents didn't instill proper principles - but it was the parental lack of proper principles being taught to THE BULLIES. WTH is wrong with the republican party? When exactly did they jump the rail?