Oh no, not again. Justin Bieber, the 19-year-old pop sensation, continued his downward spiral last week. On Thursday, Bieber was arrested after drinking and driving with an expired license and resisting police officers. This all happened on the heels of other recent misbehavior, which reportedly included smoking marijuana, going to strip clubs and allegedly egging his neighbor's house, according to law enforcement officials.
Should we be worried about Bieber's behavior? Yep. He seems to be on a very slippery slope.
Bieber was taken to a Miami jail after his arrest last week and subsequently released. Upon leaving jail, swarms of young teens were waiting for him in an effort to show their support and perhaps even to catch a glimpse of their celebrity idol.
Bieber waved to his fans as if he had done something quite outstanding. Many of his young teen fans -- otherwise known as Beliebers -- have continued to support him. Their loyalty is clear from the tweetsthat they have been posting, which range from describing that he is only human to expressing their disdain that he is being mocked by many.
Why are these young teens continuing to support Bieber despite his recent antics? The answer is that he is their idol and they (the Beliebers) have a group bond through their mutual admiration of him and his music.
They see themselves as members of the Belieber club. And what do members of an exclusive teen club do when their idol is in trouble? They treat it as a crisis and come together to handle the crisis as the close-knit group that they see themselves as. Teens love to be part of a group and something that is bigger than them. It gives them a unique identity.
This raises the question: Do the teens approve of Bieber’s destructive and risky behavior? Unlikely. They love Bieber and are worried that they will lose him. Without a shadow of a doubt, their collective fear of losing their idol bonds them even more closely. Throughout history, common fears have bonded individuals and this is especially true for teenagers.
Tweens have the ability to both support their idols and be aware that their behavior is problematic. Supporting Bieber and understanding that his behavior is risky are therefore not mutually exclusive concepts. Parents should not worry that their supportive Beliebers will follow suit and mimic his behavior.
Inadvertently, Bieber has provided a wonderful teaching opportunity for parents (in this case, of predominantly young teens or tweens). Parents can discuss Bieber’s erratic behavior and their concern about such behavior with their kids.
I suggest that parents watch footage of Bieber’s trials and tribulations with their teens and tweens. Keep in mind that the key to a good discussion with kids starts by listening to what they have to say and respecting their opinions without interrupting or becoming excessively emotional. Once parents interrupt or become emotional, tweens and teens will close the door on the conversation. It’s just what teens do, so hear them out after soliciting their opinions.
Then, without criticizing Bieber as a person, focus on how risky his behavior was and how lucky he was not to hurt himself or others. If he continues on this path, you may want to tell them, he is unfortunately headed for a major disaster. Don't hold back on how dangerous his behavior is. Just make sure that your delivery is calm, collected and conveys concern.