As the anniversary of Harry Burke’s tragic passing approaches, his parents, Carl Burke and Barbie Lavers, are bravely stepping forward to share their story with the world. Their mission is clear: they want social media companies and governments to take action to safeguard young people from the dangers of international sextortion schemes. 

79% OF SEXTORTION incidents have occurred on Instagram or Snapchat. 

Harry, a bright 17-year-old student at Souris Regional School in eastern P.E.I., tragically took his own life after falling victim to a sinister scheme on Snapchat. A new contact, posing as a girl, lured Harry into sharing intimate images before threatening to ruin his life unless he paid up. Despite his family’s efforts to seek help, the relentless pressure proved too much for Harry to bear. 

The Escalating Threat of Sextortion receives an average of 10 SEXTORTION reports per day. 

Sextortion, as Stephen Sauer of at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection explains, is a rampant global issue affecting thousands of youths. Perpetrators, often based overseas, target vulnerable individuals, exploiting their fears and vulnerabilities for personal gain. The emotional toll on victims and their families is immeasurable. 

Law enforcement agencies face significant challenges in combating sextortion, with rates of successful investigations declining despite a surge in reported cases. The international nature of these crimes further complicates matters, requiring coordinated efforts across borders. 

Prioritizing Protection 

Carl and Barbie refuse to succumb to despair. They are determined to turn their grief into action, advocating for greater accountability from social media platforms and governments alike. They believe that companies must implement stricter safeguards to protect users, including robust age verification measures and proactive prevention strategies. 

They emphasize the importance of education in preventing future tragedies. By raising awareness of the risks associated with online interactions, particularly among young people, they hope to empower individuals to recognize and resist predatory behavior. 

Embracing Transformation 

Their advocacy has already sparked meaningful change. A private member’s bill, championed by Souris-Elmira MLA Robin Croucher, seeks to establish April 25 as Cyberbullying Awareness Day in honor of Harry Burke. This legislative initiative aims to ensure that Harry’s story is not forgotten and that his legacy serves as a catalyst for positive change. 

Harry’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for action. It is a call to arms for individuals, communities, and governments to unite in the fight against online exploitation. Together, we can strive to create a safer, more compassionate digital world for generations to come. 

As a proud member of esteemed organizations such as WeProtect Global Alliance, Project Arachnid, C3P, and the Internet Watch Foundation, Netsweeper remains steadfast in our dedication to the eradication of child sexual abuse imagery on the internet. Through our innovative student safety and web filtering solutions, we have empowered countless students across the globe. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and unwavering commitment, Netsweeper strives to ensure that every child can navigate the digital world with confidence and security. 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual extortion, or is struggling with mental health, you can find resources here: