This 11 minute “silent” video is the powerful depiction of two best friends who have a deadly falling out when one of them joins a dangerous clique. Childhood best friends (Michelle Page and Cali Fredrichs) hit emotional crossroads when only one is chosen to join the popular clique in high school (Francia Raisa). The friendship tries to survive — in secret. But on the night of the big Spring Formal, loyalties are tested, ties are severed and friendships end with devastating consequences.
Note: This video does address the issue of suicide, before showing in a classroom, please take into consideration if the content is appropriate for your audience.
Strain is directed by Yin Chang. Her 16- and 17-year-old sisters, Lelina Chang and Melora Chang, are associate producers. For a behind the scenes look, visit the STRAIN website.
Toolkit activities developed by Yin Chang and STRAIN Producers, © LeliMelo Productions, Inc
After watching STRAIN, share the following toolkits with your student audience.
- Write a Letter—Your opportunity to write a letter about how witnessing or experiencing a bullying situation made you feel. Download a PDF of Letter Writing Exercise
- Positive Traits—An exercise to think through the traits that make you feel proud, and traits that you admire in others. Download a PDF of Positive Traits
- Reflection Questions— After watching “Strain”, answer the questions below. Your responses can remain private. However, if you're comfortable they may be shared in small groups or with the class. Download a PDF of “Reflection Questions”
1. In the beginning of “Strain”, the individuals who were bullying broke into the target’s locker and threw all her belongings on the floor. Why do you think the other students ignored the situation and kept to themselves? Why didn’t the target tell anyone about what happened to her belongings?
2. Have you ever been in a situation where you witnessed someone getting bullied or harassed? What did you do in that situation? If you could go back in time to change the situation, what would you do?
3. How do you think you would feel if someone physically or verbally hurt you or embarrassed you? Would you know how to get help?
4. The bystander friend kept her friendship with the target hidden. In the dressing room shopping scene, the bystander texted the girl who was bullying behind her friend’s back and lied about not being friends with her anymore. Why do you think she did that?
5. Have you ever kept a friendship in secret because you were scared what others might think about you or you felt embarrassed to be seen with your friend? If yes, do you regret it? How do you think you could have handled the situation differently?
6. In “Strain”, the target kept to herself and avoided people after constantly being bullied. If just ONE bystander talked to her to make her feel less alone, or stood up to help her, or asked for a trusted adult’s help, it would have made a very big difference and may have saved her life. What should you do if you see someone in your school whose behavior is similar to the target in “Strain”?
7. In the end, the bystander regretted never standing up for her childhood best friend. She had flashbacks of allowing the bullying to continue. The bystander realized the cost of her popularity and image was not worth hurting her childhood best friend. If you were in the bystander’s shoes, what would you have done?