Media Interviews & Presentations
Leslie “Les” Nichols is frequently interviewed by media regionally and nationally as a child safety consultant with expertise in protection and security. Here are some of the most recent publications in which Mr. Nichols appears.
If you’d like to speak with Les about a story you’re researching or invite Mr. Nichols to speak at your event, please use the contact form on this website. If you’re working on a breaking story, please reach Jayme Soulati, Soulati Media, Inc. at 937-232-2529.
In The News
School Transportation News
What’s Your Safety Culture?
Safety expert R. Leslie Nichols said that establishing a safety culture should be approached with business objectives, business outputs and performance indicators. “If people don’t want to be diligent, or if they think a safety procedure or policy is inconvenient, and they don’t want to overcome their complacency, there won’t be a culture of safety,” said Nichols, a retired vice president of safety for the Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs of America.
Nichols added, “We must use peer pressure to encourage each other to do the right thing. Sometimes doing the right thing as an adult is knowing your peers have your back.”
Nichols is speaking this month at the STN EXPO Reno on how complacency can lead to tragedy. He said it’s important to hold each other accountable, because most tragedies begin with some minor irregularity that goes unnoted. Nichols explained that the red flags are minor rules that are broken. But these can lead to 30 minor incidents that are indicators, which in turn become 300 minor incidents that lead up to a tragedy.
This is the crux of Heinrich’s Law, developed by William Herbert Heinrich in the 1930s to explain behavior-based safety. “Nothing happens immediately. But that tells you the culture is not having an impact on people’s behavior,” he added. “The culture’s job is to shape behaviors.”
Nichols said that another characteristic of a safety culture is that people embrace being viewed as protectors of children, which many student transporters already do. “Along with policies, you must get people to realize the joy of being a protector,” Nichols said, suggesting that it helps to recognize the highest achievers. “It brings pride in what you’re doing. Everyone from the janitor on up must have a protector mindset.”
Jeff Cassell, the founder of School Bus Safety Company, said a safety culture means “doing it right the first time, every time.” According to Cassell, “When you establish norms where everybody does it right the first every time, then you have a safety culture.” Cassell feels that “Management should decide what norms to set and devise a plan to achieve those norms. Then get the leadership. You must lead, train, educate, reward, punish and incent[ivize). Then you have a safety culture.”
School Transportation News July 30, 2019
STN Expo: Ensuring a Safety Culture in your Organization
The final keynote of the STN EXPO in Reno featured author, speaker and consultant Les Nichols discussing how to make a safe organization and the steps that can be taken to get there. His presentation, “The Complacency Conundrum: Why Organizations Fail to Prevent Tragedies,” addressed promoting a safety culture and implementing a safety change.
Nichols, president of R.L Nichols and Associates, has spent the past 25 years helping youth while he served in organizations that protect children and teens. Nichols shared the classic Aesop’s fable of a scorpion and a frog crossing the river. The frog told the scorpion he would allow him on his back for a ride across the river, but only if the scorpion didn’t sting the frog and cause him to drown. The scorpion said he wouldn’t sting the frog, because he didn’t want to drown, either. But halfway across, the scorpion stung the frog because, as he exclaimed as both sank to the bottom, it was in his nature.
School Transportation News, July 2019
School transportation executives and consultants agree that culture informs child safety, and buy-in from everyone is important for that to happen. R. Leslie “Les” Nichols, a child safety expert and consultant, said a safety culture “should be approached with business objectives, business outputs and performance indicators.” Les also suggests that people need to be held accountable and “red flags are minor rules that are broken. But these can lead to 30 minor incidents that are indicators which in turn become 300 minor incidents that lead up to a tragedy.”
Daily Journal, June 7, 2019
Lee County School District officials took a proactive approach to school safety by hiring R.L. Nichols & Associates to examine safety measures and recommend various improvement. Superintendent Jimmy Weeks shares how the district has implemented various recommendations by R.L. Nichols & Associates.
- Leslie “Les” Nichols, president of the firm, states, “Criminals make a decision based on some rationale, no one just snaps, so they are going to choose a location where they will succeed. Having well-trained professionals not only serves as an immediate deterrent, it also boosts overall morale, sets a threshold of security as a serious business. They are there as a symbol.”
Daily Journal, March 28, 2018
In Tupelo, Miss., school and community leaders held a School Safety Security Summit and invited R. Leslie “Les” Nichols, a youth protection consultant, to present his expertise to the group. Les Nichols shared a variety of tips with attendees including anticipate threats by focusing on vulnerabilities; make staff competent problem solvers; use communication as a way to manage emergencies; and, much more.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 1, 2018
“On Whole, Teachers Shun Guns”
After the Parkland, Fla. school shooting, Georgia public schools respond to arming teachers with guns. The article presents the complexity of such a decision as teachers are overwhelmed with training as educators and have little to no experience in law enforcement.
- Leslie “Les” Nichols is a child safety consultant quoted in the story. He addresses a variety of issues surrounding arming teachers with guns including: individual capacity, stress response, whether teachers with guns increase or deter safety, teacher training, and the standard of care throughout the public-school district.
Springfield News-Leader, August 2, 2017
A Springfield, Missouri teacher taught for 25 years despite numerous accusations of sexual harassment. R. Leslie “Les” Nichols, a child safety and security authority, was interviewed for the story, and he said “cases like these are common because it’s hard for others to imagine and secondly, people don’t want to learn the patterns of exploiting children.”
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, June 15, 2012
When R. Leslie “Les” Nichols worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, his role was as a child safety advocate to protect children from gaining access by sexual predators, child molesters, and others intending to inflict harm. Today, Les Nichols is using this earned expertise as a child safety consultant to help youth-serving organizations maintain a culture of protection for all children they serve.
This article reviews the six key items that every child protection policy should include. Les Nichols recommends each of them as critical to creating a culture of trust and protection across youth-serving organizations.