I'm real tired of the incorrect and self-serving rhetoric aimed at parents and children that what is needed to cut down on teen pregnancies, violence, drinking and drug abuse is more information. Who do these folks think they're kidding?

Father Gregory J. Boyle, a Los Angeles priest, recently wrote a commentary piece for a Los Angeles newspaper: "Showing Up Beats Talking Down: Teenagers don't lack information; they indulge in risky behavior because we're not there in their lives." This column reiterates, supports and expands on Father Boyle's timely and controversial point of view.There is more knowledge out there now than was ever available to anyone over 35.

Is there some child who hasn't been exposed to a day-care center in her high school or seen a pregnant teenager in a mall?

Is there some child in an inner city who hasn't seen a body lying on a street corner, hasn't heard gunshots or hasn't had to console some friend or relative of a dead gangbanger or victim of such?

When a child sneaks and steals to get drugs, is it because he thinks they're good for his health?

I keep hearing about information being the saving grace for kids. Well, parents of my generation didn't educate us about sex, drugs and violence except to say, "It's bad and wrong . . . Don't do it or else!"

The "threat" approach is useless, however, unless it's followed up with something incredibly simple but seemingly too difficult or intrusive for today's parents: being there for the kids.

Information in the hands and minds of young folks who are, by definition, physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially immature has limited use. Children need a lot more from adults: love, attention, guidance, support, direction, monitoring, supervision, correction, discipline. . . . Am I getting through?

All these activities require parents to be there. Oh, I can hear the objections already: "But . . . ," parents will say. They'll start with a weak acknowledgment that the point is well taken - and then add an excuse for why they can't/won't be there for their kids.

Let's look at some of the reasons behind these "excuses":

- The ever-rising divorce rate, which leaves children in the lurch with only one, usually working and/or dating parent.

- The ever-rising illegitimacy rate, which leaves children in the lurch with only one, usually working and/or dating parent;

- Parents' busy, busy, busy lifestyles, which leave so little time for children.

- Parents who are focused on their own fulfillment, successes, acquisitions, desires - i.e., themselves - and whose children are accessories, at best, not the focus of their lives.

Sometimes disasters (abandonment, death) occur, but even then efforts need to be made to meet the absolute requirement of a child to have adult involvement and supervision. A child needs some loving, caring, attentive adults who will focus time and energy on that child's emotional and practical needs.

With all the (I think pathetic) emphasis on self-esteem these days, why is it so difficult for folks to provide the main foundation of such for a child: one-on-one involvement with that child? What better way for a child to feel important, hopeful and secure than to have an adult (preferably more than one) who makes the child's well-being a material part of his or her life and schedule?

It comes down to time. In the earliest history of mankind, people made THINGS (idols) sacred. Unfortunately, many people do the same today, although not in such a "spiritual" sense - more with gluttony, avarice, acquisition, power and status.

In the Ten Commandments, God decreed TIME as sacred and disavowed things. This is the basis of the Fourth Commandment on Sabbath observance, which holds that our efforts to impose our egos on the earth (through work and acquisition) are to cease and we are to reinvest ourselves in our appreciation for all things as well as in our relationship to God.

May I suggest that this concept be expanded to include our awareness of the sacred nature of our obligation to our children - an obligation which should stand before any other personal desires.

I am reminded of a young, newly married woman who called my radio program to say that now that she was married, she'd like to fulfill her dream-career desire. Although taking on this career would mean she'd be home very little, she thought it was the right thing to do because it would make her happy.

And there it is - the ultimate '90s excuse for not fulfilling obligations: There is something else we'd "like" to do, and what we want becomes right.

You can educate your children about sex, drugs and violence as much as is humanly possible, but, ultimately, they will learn from you to do what they'd "like" to do, because they can make up excuses as well as you can.