An overwhelming sense of sadness fell across Melbourne on Thursday night as the friends of three teenagers killed in an overcrowded car sought comfort in one another.
The Salvation Army fears this sadness may morph into anger and a possible repeat of the tragedy that happened on Pascoe Vale Road, Coolaroo just before midnight on Wednesday.
Fairfax understands three of the teenagers in the crash had been in and out of state government care and the juvenile justice system.
There have been calls for more campaigns to warn young people about the dangers of drink-driving, speeding and high-risk behaviour.
But the Salvation Army's Major Brendan Nottle said such campaigns would fall on deaf ears among a group of children who feel disconnected from our community.
"These kids are at a rebellious stage in their lives. I'm not necessarily talking about these kids [in the Coolaroo crash] ... but we have to be careful of knee-jerk reactions that address the symptoms and not the cause," Major Nottle said.
"There was a campaign targeted at kids that said how should I prepare for your funeral. That doesn't connect with them.
"We need to lock these kids into meaningful activities so the don't feel locked out."
Major Nottle said successive governments had cut funding for drop-in centres, calling them "drop out" centres.
But he said with time and effort that was not the case.
"We need to make sure youth workers are around to connect with these kids and are not coming in and out of kids' lives.
"For a whole range of reasons these kids find it difficult to trust adults and it takes a long time to build that trust and make a difference.
"There should be centres or programs not just in Melbourne but right across Victoria for children to engage in interesting activities so they feel like they belong and are accepted for who there are."
Major Nottle said the Salvation spent most of Thursday night visiting teenagers who had congregated in various locations in Melbourne. Earlier that day 45 young people, who were friends of the car crash victims, had gathered on the steps of Flinders Street Station.
"There was an immense sadness but our fear now is that will turn into anger."