This paper represents a collaboration between two of the Institute for Security Studies' research areas: small arms and light weapons and children in armed conflict. The proliferation of small arms throughout Africa since the cold war has not, in itself been the cause of conflict. The accessibility of weapons easily operable by children and youth has however, raised the stakes and magnified the devastation of wars. The cyclical effect of impeded socio-economic development and the socialization of young people in violence have made small arms a part of social, economic and political survival for children and youth. This paper begins to unravel the complex notion of demand for small arms and light weapons through the lens of children's rights in an attempt to enrich current analysis of the problem of arms proliferation.