I am a father and teacher. I am deeply disturbed by President Donald Trump.
My dismay is not political. Instead, it involves his narcissistic and boorish behavior, underscored most recently by his characterization of Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries.”
Once upon a time, United States presidents were upheld as role models to the world, leaders of the greatest representative democracy. Parents encouraged their kids to “become president one day.” Americans repeated the myth of George Washington and his cherry tree for its lesson of personal honesty.
Indeed, the word “presidential” was used to define a level of decorum that included speaking and acting respectfully, even amid opposition. Donald Trump has thrown all that in the trash, providing our children with the image of a snarling, whiny, deceitful boy-president.
Are impulsive rage and profanity what this country wants from its president? Apparently so, according to 40 percent of Americans.
“He says what I’m thinking,” they assert. “He tells it like it is.”
What’s more, calling countries of people with brown skin “shitholes” while preferring immigrants from Norway is blatantly racist. The fact that many people agree with that feeling is alarming in 21st-century America. Has exhibiting bigoted, heartless conceit truly become the behavior we want our children to see in a president?
Remember, we’re talking about kids. As a father and teacher, I have a front-row seat to how impressionable they can be. For many kids, Trump is the only president they’ve seen or that they’ve noticed, thanks to his lurid behavior. Thus, anything he does is seen as “normal and presidential.”
Sadly, the Trump Effect has already taken hold among kids.
By last June, BuzzFeed News had confirmed “more than 50 incidents, across 26 states, in which a K-12 student invoked Trump’s name or message in an apparent effort to harass a classmate during the past school year.”
For example, Principal Brent Emmons of Hood River Middle School in Oregon, said, “This is my 21st year in education and I’ve never seen a situation like this before. It’s a delicate tightrope to walk. It’s not my role to tell people how to think about political policies, but it is my role to make sure every kid feels safe at the school.”
Emmons’ challenge is exemplified by an incident where “dozens of his students chanted ‘Build that wall!’ during a  Halloween assembly after two teachers performing in a skit entered the stage wearing masks of Trump and Clinton. A third of the school’s students are Latino.”
Connecticut is not immune from such episodes. Students at Canton High School chanted Trump’s name during a basketball game against Classical Magnet — a school of mostly Latino and black students — on Feb. 28 last year. Wilton High School students similarly chanted “build a wall” during a November 2016 football game against Danbury.
Thankfully, Connecticut’s leaders do not share Donald Trump’s chauvinistic world view.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy flew the Haitian flag at the governor’s residence the day after Trump’s remarks. And Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said, “The statements reported yesterday fly in the face of what it means to be a Republican and an American. The president should apologize for these disrespectful and outrageous comments.”
I won’t be holding my breath because Trump never apologizes. In fact, he uses Twitter to double-down crudely and viciously on perceived enemies. By one count, the president is on a pace to insult “more than 650 people, places, and things by the end of his first term.”
Not exactly a positive example of how kids should use social media — a fact made even more ridiculous by the existence of the First Lady’s “anti-bullying campaign.”
In short, “the advice experts give to parents about social media and their young children is in many cases the same advice our nation’s 71-year-old president needs to hear,” writes columnist Matthew Tully.
I can’t imagine I’m the only father and teacher disgusted by Donald Trump. But if any other fathers or teachers find his conduct at all redeeming — and my growing cynicism knows they exist — then this country’s fall from grace will only continue.
Barth Keck is a father of three, an English teacher, and an assistant football coach who teaches courses in journalism, media literacy, and AP English Language & Composition at Haddam-Killingworth High School.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.