As April turns to May, high school seniors get ready for some long-anticipated events: the prom and graduation.

For many, the anticipation includes marking these rites of passage by breaking the law and drinking alcohol. According a recent national poll, 70 percent of high school students expect that some of their fellow promgoers this year will drink and drive.

In the weeks ahead, newspapers and television stations from around the country will report on the tragic results of those decisions. Misguided parents, believing that their children would be safer at home than out on the road, will host — or at least look the other way at — parties in which teens celebrate by drinking. This is a huge mistake. The dangers of drinking don’t stop just because the teens aren’t driving.

Youths using alcohol face increased risk of drowning, fighting and alcohol poisoning. They also are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault.

Alcohol use can have serious, permanent effects on young, still- developing brains. Teens who start drinking are more likely to develop drinking problems later in life.

Parents don’t have to give in. They can use their influence to talk with their children, establish rules and enforce them. Teens who believe that they could be caught if they drink are much less likely to imbibe.

Families can model good behavior, sending their kids the message that there are many ways to celebrate big events without drinking alcohol.

Parents should also remember that furnishing alcohol to unrelated minors is a crime, and they face legal consequences for allowing a party at which underage drinking is going to take place in their homes.

Parents and teens should not start this season without talking about how much is really at stake.