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The principal at St Hugo of the Hills Catholic School in Bloomfield Hills has banned her students from having MySpace pages.

According to reports, Sister Margaret Van Velzen has sent out an edict instructing students to take down their pages or face suspension from school. Families are expected to support the school's policy, which it says is aimed at keeping the students safe.

MySpace has been linked to a number of assaults, some of them sexual, some less so. It does have a minimum age limit - no one younger than 14 is supposed to join- but verifying the ages of everyone on a social network as large as MySpace is next to impossible and, some would argue, not even desirable.

Nevertheless, Sister Margaret has asked various staff members to keep an eye on the MySpace network for anyone transgressing the new rule.

While the move will surely seem draconian and intrusive to the average Register reader, it does have the backing of local police. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says it removes peer pressure, which he described as "the biggest factor" in encouraging kids to have pages.

However, not everyone is convinced. Jerry Herron, Wayne State University professor of American Studies argues the move will just give everyone a sense of false security. "A predator who wants to violate children will find a way, electronically or otherwise," he added.

This is to say nothing of setting up a MySpace page under a nickname. But we wouldn't want to suggest anyone actually do that, of course.

The Register's resident grumpy old man, who we consult on occasions such as these, was heard to mumble into his pint: "Too right. Burning CDs? Burning in hell more like. In my day..." at which point we stopped listening. ®

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