Calgary Sun

January 13, 2001

Don't back starvation

Support for action called dangerous

By NADIA MOHARIB -- Calgary Sun

Words of encouragement to a young boy starving himself to make a point are misguided and dangerous, says a child service employee.

"If you care about him, encourage him to eat," said Bill Meade, CEO of Calgary Rocky View Children's Authority.

Meade said he was surprised and disappointed to see strangers support 14-year-old Clayton Giles as he wages a hunger strike -- entering Day 14 today -- to demand an apology from the court system for removing him from his father's custody.

"This is not good for Clayton.

"People shouldn't turn to self-harm."

Giles said a signed document from his estranged mother agreeing to relinquish custody will be enough for him to end his fast.

Child and Family Services is watching the case closely and urging the boy's parents to convince him to end his protest.

If not, the province can step in to end a situation if it has potential to jeopardize his health.

"We will not stand on the sidelines and let this child do damage to himself," Meade said.

Clayton, who has lost about 12 lb., said he's feeling fine and that his doctor agreed.

The Grade 9 student, who has been surviving on juice and water, concedes he doesn't want his extreme tactics to set an example for others.

"I hope they won't do this, but that they will stand up for their rights," Giles said while munching on an ice cube.

His father Eric hoped yesterday his former wife would sign the papers to end the strike.

"I'm not going to let him step out into traffic , but he can make his own decision," he said.

Clayton's estranged mother Marnie Harrison has said she will do anything to protect her son's well-being, even if it means giving up custody.

Court of Queen's Bench documents in 1993 -- which describe Eric Giles as "manipulative and aggressive" -- granted her full custody of Clayton, with visitation rights to his father.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.