While I really hate to admit it, it’s simply a fact that Britney Spears is a role model.

Ok, maybe not a role model per se, but perhaps a model of how to effectively care for a young star who is quickly careening down a path of death and destruction. Remember the incidents of her shaving her head, shoplifting, erratic behavior, drug use, hit-and-runs and investigations of child abuse and neglect? Sure you remember; she was a train wreck and it was only a matter of time before she took her place in Hollywood lore next to James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, another star who shot to fame too fast and couldn’t control the downward spiral.

But then fate intervened, or rather, her father. He came into the fray, realized that her daughter was out of control and initiated court proceedings to have himself appointed as her conservator. A parent’s job is never over. Even though the kids may be adults and out in the world on their own, a parent is never not a parent.

Now I am not saying that the conservatorship of Britney Spears has been appropriately handled and without hiccups or controversy; I am simply highlighting the fact that on January 31, 2008, stated the following: “Sadly, the Britney Spears death watch is well underway.” And now, five and a half years later, you would be hard pressed to find anything negative about Spears, and certainly nothing as fantastic or appalling, or life-threatening, as in 2008.

Now look at the other side of the coin: Justin Bieber, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Shia LaBeouf, Jodie Sweetin, Adam Rich (a name from the past)… while some of those on this list seemed to find their own way out of their spirals (or at least so far), some of them seem unable to get out of their own way. Bieber and Lohan are the most prime and obvious candidates.

Many people look at conservatorship as a necessary evil when caring for the elderly or mentally ill, a court-supervised process that many of us perceive as applying in only limited circumstances. On the other hand, it seems that parents believe that their job ends when the kids turn 18. Seriously, how many times have you wondered what Bieber’s parents are doing while he consistently gets in trouble with the law, abuses drugs, falls in with bad crowds and generally makes a mockery of himself all over the world? While we would like to think that his parents had to have raised him to be better than this, it simply appears that his parents have stopped caring.

Which is why I revisit the Britney Spears matter, a situation in which a parent identified that his daughter was playing with fire and was on the verge of being irrevocably burned, so he took action. Was it right, was it wrong? I am not going to take a stance on that. I am only going to say that something was done. The parents did not sit idly by and watch as the flames rose higher and higher.

Recently the same thing happened with Amanda Bynes, a child star who was acting so erratically the police arrested her and put her under a psychiatric hold, the same as Britney Spears. Since then, her parents have been appointed conservators and she has been out of the limelight and seemingly under control.

I acknowledge that in the cases of Spears and Bynes the police had already arrested them and put them under psychiatric holds before the conservators were appointed, but if anything else, they are demonstrations of parents who took action to try to help and the help seems to have been successful.

Even though they are adults, they are still the children of parents and the parents cannot sit by and allow the devastation and personal destruction to continue, especially when their efforts cause harm to others. Bieber and his car accidents and personal attacks; Lohan and her shoplifting and breaches of contracts and car accidents. Look, if you want to mess up your own life, go ahead. But when you take your efforts to the public and threaten the health or well-being of other people, something has to be done to get the act together. The options are not pleasant: it’s either jail or death.

You can imagine that the parents will be weeping at the graves of their kids when they crash and burn; but will they be looking in the mirror at the same time?