JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Fremont County District Attorney’s office may bring charges in a nude photo scandal involving hundreds of students at Cañon City High School.

The kids used secret apps to hide the pictures. The apps look like and work like calculators or games, but when you type in a passcode, they take you to a secret picture file.

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“It’s smoke and mirrors and we as parents are way behind the learning curve,” says Mike Harris with Jefferson County District Attorney’s office.

Hidden apps (credit: CBS)

Hidden apps (credit: CBS)

He’s investigated internet sex crimes against children for nearly two decades and says there’s no shortage of apps where kids can hide things.

Harris also recommends parents wipe all apps from their kids’ phones, restore factory settings, and then manage which apps they download.

“As parents we need to take back some of that control. We should have parental controls in place and then if your kid needs an app or wants an app, you discuss it. If you agree to allow them to have this app, you unlock the password to download the app and then put the password back on,” said Harris.

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Harris says when he gives school presentations, 80 percent of kids say they know someone who’s sent a nude photo.

CBS4's Shaun Boyd talks to Mike Harris with the Jeffco DA's Office (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd talks to Mike Harris with the Jeffco DA’s Office (credit: CBS)

“Because of our environment being so sexualized our kids’ ideals are skewed their boundaries are out of wack,” said Harris.

He says kids don’t understand the long term consequences, “There’s no return on send and if it falls into the wrong hands once you hit send, you lose all control. We’ve seen kids be bullied; become suicidal”.

Most parents, he says, are in denial, “I’ve literally had parents cry and say, ‘I need to see the pictures, I can’t believe my kid would do that.’ Ninety percent of kids we deal with are good kids with good families who make mistakes and these are lifelong mistakes. Once you hit send, it’s out there forever.”

The Jeffco DA’s office has published a guide which offers advice on how to Protect Your Kids Online.

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Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.