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According to investigators, child exploitation crimes increased around 300 percent since 2020

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Two Zachary men are behind bars Wednesday, facing more than 200 combined counts of child pornography. 

The Attorney General's office says Peyton Lambertson, a Zachary Elementary School teacher, and Patrick Kimery both possessed and solicited images from underage girls through the social media application 'Kik'. It's become a favorite among child predators.

"We've received a large number of Kik cyber tips," said special agent David Ferris with the Louisiana Bureau of Investigations.

Ferris says the app makes it easy for predators to find vulnerable kids.

"Kik is a mobile app designed for chatting, there's a number of dangers that are involved with that though. Essentially, you create an email address, phone number, something of that nature that allows you to create an account on Kik. From that point, you can begin exploring or meeting unknown individuals or people you do know."

The prevalence of child exploitation on the app reflects an increase of cases in general. Ferris says prior to 2020, they were averaging about 2,000 to 2,500 cases a year. Post COVID, that number is up to 7000.

"The evolution or the amount that we're receiving continues to go up. That technology's becoming more prevalent. These companies are getting better at identifying individuals on their networks, but you also got to think about in 2020, we put kids behind computers, we put bad guys behind computers with no where to go and all of a sudden you have a large spike in crimes."

The best advice Ferris can give parents is to monitor your child's social media use. You can find tips on how to do that here. 

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