'Roid Rage

You look crazy: I never knew this kid was a thief as well as a druggie ("All the Rage," by Paul Kix, August 12). I hate to say this, but a white boy steals a computer and two digital cameras from foreigners, no less, and gets ordered to his room. His response is to kill himself. What, was he upset he got caught? Go tell this story to a black kid who got sent to jail for five years for such a crime. I don't know how the school is at fault. His parents should have noticed how CRAZY he looked all blown up on steroids.

Phyllis Jones

Tale of two boys: Tears flowed as I read your article "All the Rage." As I read Emily Parker's description of Taylor Hooton's behavior in the months and days leading to his death, it was an all-too-familiar story. The melodramatic behavior, the depression, the anger, how he couldn't function without her, how he thought he was a disappointment to her, to his parents, to himself and, most of all, her description of Taylor's tears. Lots and lots of tears. Reading this story was like reliving the summer of 2003 in my own home. Taylor's behavior so mirrored that of my son, that in most places in this article, you could have simply inserted my son's name and the story would still be true. To me, there can be no stronger confirmation that steroids were the cause of both boys' problems than the fact that their stories are exactly the same with one exception: Taylor is gone; my son is not. I am Chris Wash's mother.

Although the Dallas Observer contacted Chris on many occasions while the research for this article was being done, Chris opted not to speak with you [except once, briefly]. It was not because he does not have strong feelings on this issue. The reason is simply that Chris is still, a year later, suffering the emotional consequences of his steroid abuse. His depression has continued to varying degrees, and the constant reliving of his horrible experience has kept him on an emotional roller coaster.

Where Taylor's story ends, Chris' story begins. In the year since Chris quit taking steroids, his life has been a constant battle. He has had to fight not only his own emotional issues (depression, anxiety and bouts of suicidal thoughts), but he has had to fight to make people understand what he has been through and what the cause of his issues are. For whatever reason, people simply do not want to believe that steroids caused Chris' problems.

My purpose in writing this letter is twofold. I want parents to realize the extent of the steroid problem we have in our schools, not only among the athletes but also among the student population in general. As parents, we cannot depend on the school administrators, counselors, coaches or teachers to educate our kids on the dangers of steroid use. We have to educate ourselves and include steroids in the list of things we try to teach our kids to stay away from. Up until now, that list included things like smoking, drugs, alcohol and AIDS. We need to make sure we now add steroids to that list. All of us have become obsessed with our appearance. Everywhere you look we are all told to fight the signs of aging, to look better than we do, to look younger than we are. In Plano, we are inundated with advertisements for plastic surgery, workout facilities, Botox injections, skin care treatments, teeth whitening. The message we are sending to our kids is that LOOKS DO MATTER. Is it any wonder why our kids are now turning to things like steroids to achieve the perfect body image? Our sons want to look like the Abercrombie models, our daughters like Victoria's Secret models. Steroids are helping them to achieve that look. Our kids need to know what steroids can do to harm them. They need to know that their life is too high a price to pay just to look good.

My second reason for this letter is to take this opportunity to publicly thank Gwen and Don Hooton for their unrelenting devotion to educating the public of the horrors of steroid abuse. Every time Taylor's story is told, either in print or on TV, the Hootons are forced to relive the worst day of their lives. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to watch your own tragedy be told by the press. The Hootons are to be commended for their total lack of selfishness. I know for a fact that if it had not been for their willingness to share Taylor's story, my son would probably be dead. After all, the only difference in their stories is the ending. Chris is still here to share his experience; Taylor is not.

Debbie Russo

DMN's Numbers Game

A rag on every doorstep: Anyone who has subscribed to the DMN for the past few years knows a numbers game is going on (Buzz, by Eric Celeste, August 12). When I went to weekend service, daily newspapers mysteriously appeared in my yard. When I asked the district manager why, he told me the News was running a promotion for all its customers.

You can look up and down your block in the morning and see what is happening. If three or four houses out of 16 or so have a newspaper in the yard, it's a miracle. Frequently, the News throws papers to all non-subscribers on my street. The free papers usually lie there until they fade and yellow in the sun.

The News staff is lazy. They reprint AP stories and press releases from Hollywood flacks verbatim. They constantly ask readers to "tell us about how you exercise, cook meat loaf, decorate your office cube" or whatever the topic of the day is. Don't their reporters ever go out and investigate something on their own?

Their editorialists use their positions for soapboxes, and even the columnists just sound tired. The worst thing is that the DMN is positively schizophrenic because of its efforts to please everyone who might read it. You can take a stand. It's OK.

And if I have to read one more story about how it's so hot or so cold, I will puke. When the News turns back into a newspaper worth reading, I'll subscribe again. But until then, I'll get my truth and news from better publications.

Dottye Holt

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