About the safety net...
You raise the topics of source control and tests. Both are safety nets, but they are from different worlds.
Tests is a coding safety net. Its cousin is designing code for testability / debuggability, using assertions (even contracts are here but this is way too much for beginners).
Source control is coding tools safety net. Its relative is keeping track of bugs/features, for example.
Also, I'm not sure that learning other languages is the best advice for beginners. For once, most Perl beginners probably come from other languages, either from work/self study or from University. Learning other languages (the well known one of each of the 4 paradigms) can be left for later, intermediate stages.
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