It’s not so hard to believe, Beliebers.

Teenage pop star Justin Bieber was charged with assault for allegedly hitting a Toronto limousine driver several times in the back of the head in December. The news broke just after the Canadian pop star’s attorney entered a not guilty plea in Florida to drunken-driving and other charges.

The baby-faced 19-year-old turned himself in to a Toronto police station Wednesday evening, arriving amid a crush of media and screaming fans. He was charged with one count of assault and is scheduled to appear in court in Toronto on March 10. Police allege Bieber was one of six people who were picked up by a limousine from a nightclub in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, and there was an altercation while en route to a hotel.

This came on the heels of Bieber’s recent arrest in Miami Beach, where was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after police saw the star drag-racing in his Lamborghini, police said.

The singer later admitted smoking marijuana, drinking and taking a prescription medication, police say. Unlike previous dust-ups, this arrest has him facing potential jail time.

The primal scream from his fan base is all too familiar. Tweets of FreeBieber, challenged in popularity with DeportBieber, took over social media, as did commentary about his perky mug shot, the blemishes on his boyish face and the chances of his being deported to Canada, where he is a citizen.

Superstars who peak this young tend to struggle through a stormy period. Should parents really be concerned if their child idolizes a star on the verge of implosion? Or should they be more worried about their child’s musical tastes?

Dr. Tim Jordan, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician based in Chesterfield, Mo., says Bieber’s recent troubles are an opportunity for parents. Jordan, whose counseling practice focuses on tween and teenage girls, watched a Bieber documentary to better understand the tastes of the population he serves.

“Ask questions,” he said. “Get into your kid’s head to get a sense of how they think about things, where they are in terms of their maturity.”

He suggests asking open-ended questions such as, “I wonder why someone who ‘has it all’ would act that way?” Maybe being rich and famous is not what happiness is all about, he said.

It’s a chance to talk about what kind of image Bieber may want to project, what kind of support he might have from family and the importance of having good friends, he added.

Theresa Wojak, a clinical social worker in private practice in south St. Louis County, Mo., says Bieber seems to have been in a downward spiral for months.

“You could see it coming. It seems very much like any teenager but escalated because of wealth, fame and the people around him,” Wojak said. She suggests asking a child what he or she thinks would happen to someone making choices like the ones Bieber is making.

But there’s little reason to worry about Bieber fever, so long as his fans are reasonably healthy and have a balanced life in terms of school, activities and friends, Jordan said.

“For girls, it’s a safe way to have a romantic relationship,” he said. They can think he’s talking to them, he explained, and imagine themselves in a romantic relationship before they are actually ready to be in one.

“That’s been normal for a long time,” he said, citing the Beatles and Frank Sinatra.

Stacey Daniel, a St. Charles, Mo., mother of two daughters, says her 17-year-old is a huge fan of the pop star. When Bieber was investigated for possibly egging a neighbor’s house recently, Daniel said to her: “I can’t believe you still like him.”

Her daughter laughed it off.

Daniel said, “To me, he’s hanging out with the wrong people. Acting like a wannabe thug and thinking he can get away with it.

“We took her to the concert last year. That was before he started on his demise,” Daniel said. She says her teenager is unlikely to take Bieber’s actions too seriously. And Daniel’s not worried about the long-term impact this fandom might have on her daughter’s musical preferences.

“She actually has pretty good taste. Some of his stuff is catchy, and I’m 41.”


This story includes information from the Associated Press.