Columbia, SC (WLTX) According to statistics Principal Claudia Brooks-McCullum shared with more than 50 stakeholders Monday evening, 49% of African American males have been arrested before their 23rd birthday.

Black youth are three times more likely to be victims of child abuse or neglect, three times more likely to be victims of robbery and five times more likely to be victims of homicide, according to reports. Sandel Elementary is hoping to change those statistics and help their students succeed. The school hosted more than 50 community stakeholders for a discussion with parents. The goal, to figure out how to turn those numbers around.

Brooks-McCallum began with the facts saying we can't go where we want to go unless we know how bad it is to begin with. Sandel Elementary is a Title I, low income school. The have 291 male students and 231 of them are African American. She says it's a tough discussion to have, but in order to plan for the future they had to lay it all out on the table. Brooks-McCallum tells News 19, "This is our second year of having 1/3 of our students with no prior access to day care or pre K." That means they come to school with a vocabulary of far fewer words than they should have at their age. So they are starting off behind their peers.

In the round table discussion, community leaders were challenged top brain storm solutions to three questions centering around, incarceration, being victims of crime and academics.

Several ideas came out of the meeting, including increased mentoring opportunities. Brooks-McCallum says with the 30-minute required intervention instruction time their teachers spend with these students, it is making a difference. "With that intervention with quality instruction with quality certified teachers, we're closing the gap. They are just closing not as soon as you would ,but we're seeing the progress," she says.

She says its only through the help of the community that they can see greater progress. Laddie Howard is an attorney and has a son. He tells News 19, that whatever is implemented, it has to be consistent. He says, "Our society and the urgency requires that men like me and others don't just focus on our sons." He says they need to focus on everyone's sons.

In order to write a new future for the youth who are falling behind the participants agreed, it will take the village to step up and implement consistent mentor programs and show children that people care about them

Brooks-McCallum says, "I think that warms my heart the most to know that we really are a village raising children. And tonight it was evident with over 50 stakeholders being part of a conversation and a courageous opportunity to say you now what we are not satisfied with what's happening and we want to do something."

out of Monday's meeting came a promise to sponsor a grades three thru five leadership academy conference at the end of the year. and several people agreed to participate in a school wide reading day on April 21st in which they would come read to the kids.