Hooton: Hood’s steroid efforts deserve praise

Don-Hooton

Sometimes in the middle of a fight, people lose focus of what the fight was to begin with. So, let me remind you what part of Attorney General Jim Hood’s beef with Google is about: Protecting kids from online drugs.

That is a subject near and dear to my heart. In 2003, I lost my 16-year-old boy Taylor after he committed suicide while coming off anabolic steroids. We don’t know where Taylor got them, but we do know this: In 2015, it’s increasingly easy for teens to acquire appearance- and performance-enhancing steroids online.

Recent studies show that 7 percent of our high school students nationally admit to steroid use. According to a report and survey that we commissioned last year, 8 percent of males aged 18-25 reported they had used anabolic steroids. In that same report, we demonstrated how Google’s subsidiary YouTube had become a haven for steroids dealers to sell their drugs.

Jim Hood has been a staunch advocate for cleaning up the Internet and has rightfully put pressure on Google, whether it’s over the sale of anabolic steroids, prescription painkillers, how-to guides to stalking teenage girls, and stolen credit cards, among other things.

As a Republican, I won’t see eye to eye with Jim Hood on many things, but I appreciate and respect the work he’s done to make the Internet a safer place.  And, it takes guts to take on a powerful global corporation such as Google and pressure them to do a better job.

And, while that issue with Google is unresolved, Jim Hood has already produced results. Steroids dealers lament the fact it’s harder to market and sell drugs on YouTube. Through Jim Hood’s work, Google has grudgingly cleaned up its platforms from allowing the sale of stolen credit cards, fake passports and drivers licenses and drugs.

Those efforts make a difference to all of us, even if that’s hard to quantify. How do you quantify the steroids that a 17-year-old didn’t get online and therefore didn’t put his or her health at risk? How do you quantify the OxyContin that couldn’t be bought and overdosed on?

Maybe those drugs would have been sold in Mississippi, Missouri or any state in the nation. But thanks to Jim Hood, they weren’t available.

We all know that’s just part of the problem, and we need to do a lot towards educating our youth — and the coaches who work with them — on the dangers of steroids. That is what the Taylor Hooton Foundation is passionately committed to accomplishing, both in partnership with professional sports leagues such as Major League Baseball as well as working with local youth leagues to create awareness.

But when a public official such as Jim Hood raises awareness — and even stands up to a company like Google — it helps by elevating the issue.

Politics is politics, so during elections candidates always find something to argue about. But whether you are a Democrat or Republican, you should support efforts to keep dangerous drugs off the Internet.

That is what Jim Hood has done, and this Republican appreciates it.

Donald Hooton of McKinney, Texas, is president of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, named after his son who was using steroids and committed suicide. The Taylor Hooton Foundation promotes awareness of the steroids problem among youth. 

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